|Image courtesy of Elwood & Jen Collier and VHSwasteland.com|
Directed by: Walter Hill
If you've read any number of my posts in the past, then you know my love for director Walter Hill. Let's face it, the guy knows how to direct a tough action picture. He makes them bloody, sweaty and with a "no fluff" approach to filmmaking. I think that's what I like most about the way he makes films. He doesn't try to over-stylize them in any way.
Extreme Prejudice is no different. This modern day western is about as tough as they come in the world of action cinema. You've got probably one of the best "tough guy" ensemble casts next to Predator and a tale about drug running, bank robberies, loyalty and a Texas Ranger out for revenge in one of the best endings I've ever seen in an action film. The final 30 minutes of this film rules and at least in my mind, is pretty fucking legendary!
Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) used to be childhood friends with local drug kingpin Cash Bailey (Powers Boothe). Though at complete opposite sides of the law, the two have a mutual respect for one another because of there past friendship. But there relationship has been even more strained lately since Sarita (Maria Conchita Alanso) used to be with Cash but is now with Jack. With jealousy and tension between the two growing more and more because of Sarita, inevitably a rift is created and loyalty no longer seems to be there bond. Meanwhile Major Paul Hackett (Michael Ironside) and his band of rogue mercenaries have rolled into town meticulously planning and executing a series of bank robberies until one of the robberies goes awry and Major Hackett, his band of mercenaries and Jack and Cash's long feud culminate in one bloody finale made for the ages.
What makes this film really work well is 1.) you have Walter Hill at the helm, and 2.) this film has such an amazing ensemble cast. I mean, next to Predator, you really can't get any better than this. Besides Nick Nolte and Powers Boothe, you've also got Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe, Rip Torn, Tiny Lister Jr. and a whole lot of noticeable character actors. I've always liked Nolte, but the man seriously delivers the goods here. As Texas Ranger Jack Benteen, he is one tough son of a bitch. Even when it comes to quiet conversations with his lady Sarita, the guy just can't help but being tough, stern and usually pissed off.
The film slows down from time to time, but only long enough to build tension and story as the subplot involving Major Hackett and his team gets pretty complicated. But with a cast of this caliber, you never get bored. It all works and let's face it, you're really just waiting till you get to that showdown between Nolte and Boothe. It's classic. A Mexican standoff in the middle of all hell breaking loose in a fierce gun battle between Major Hackett's men and Cash Bailey's Mexican army. I loved this ending. Honestly, if the rest of the movie was boring, I'd still love it for that incredible ending. But lucky for us, the whole movie rules. There's plenty of car chases and shootouts to satisfy any true fan of badass cinema.
This is 80's action cinema at it's best. Walter Hill delivered a one-two punch with this and then Red Heat the following year, followed by the equally awesome Johnny Handsome and Another 48 Hours the next two years after that. The guy was on a serious role for me around this time and could do no wrong. Though his last big screen effort was the lackluster Undisputed in 2002, he's now making a comeback with A Bullet in the Head with Sly Stallone as we speak. Let's hope the guy still has it in him to deliver the same kind of throwback to badass action 80's style cinema that we came to love.