Re-Release Date: September 7th, 2007 (Regal E-Walk Stadium 13) by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Original Release Date: February 15th, 1980.
The Cast: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Karen Allen, Richard Cox, Don Scardino, Joe Spinell, James Remar.
Directed by William Friedkin.
BASIC PREMISE: Steve Burns (Pacino), a police detective, goes undercover in the gay underground in New York City to catch a serial killer.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: What could have been a nail-biting, thrilling mystery along the lines of Seven instead ends up as mostly contrived, confusing and unimaginative saved only by Al Pacino’s strong performance—surprisingly, though, he doesn’t yell in this roll like he does in other films such as City HallHeat and The Devil’s Advocate.. Pacino’s character, Steve, doesn’t show up, though, until the second act after the serial killer murders his first victim—a guy in the underground gay sex scene in NYC. The audience has already seen what the killer looks like, where to find him and even what his motives are. Therefore, the rest of the plot pretty much turns into a tedious “Where’s Waldo?” as Steve goes undercover to catch the trap the killer. Steve leaves behind his girlfriend (Allen) to focus on the case. Unfortunately, writer/director William Friedkin fails to develop any of the characters enough to that they’re interesting or memorable. It would have been nice if he made Steve into an eccentric investigator like Willem Dafoe’s opera-obsessed character in The Boondock Saints. The plot itself lacks suspense and, sadly, has a continuity error involving where the serial killer resides—in one scene, he’s on the third or fourth floor and in another he lives on the first floor. More interactions between Steve and the serial killer would have been useful. On a positive note, Friedkin does succeed to create an eerie, intense mood through impressive production values such as set design, pace, lighting and the musical score. It’s also worth mentioning that this new print of the original 80’s film both looks and sounds crisp.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly contrived, confusing and lacking suspense.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: Eerie and intense with a strong performance by Al Pacino, but bogged down by a slightly contrived and confusing plot lacking in suspense.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "C" Menu