Thursday, 5 April 2012

DIRECT HIT (1994) William Forsyth

The Blurb On The Box:

"John Hatch (WILLIAM FORSYTH - The Untouchables, The Waterdance, Out For Justice) is a professional assassin working for the CIA chief (GEORGE SEGAL - A Touch Of Class, Where's Poppa?)
He's a killer - One of the best - But he's not proud of it and wants to retire. His last assignment seems like an easy one: Remove Savannah Miles (JO CHAMPA - Top internation model/actress, Little Buddha, Out For Justice) a young woman who is supposedly bribing a U.S senator (JOHN APERA - New Jack City, The Godfather, television series Another World)
When he learns she is nothing but a pawn in a much larger game, Hatch tries to redeem his own life by protecting hers...putting himself in the line of fire. Pursued by a government-trained mercenary (RICHARD NORTON - Cyber Tracker, Lady Dragon, China O'Brien I & II) and the police. Hatch has use every trick he's ever learned to keep himself and Savannah alive"

The Truth Of The Matter:

Saw this when it first hit the shelves, and throughly enjoyed it. Was a wee bit apprehensive on re-watching it again, but it turns out this nifty little PM thriller still kept me hooked (despite it's now obvious b-movie trappings, and generic storyline) it's saving crace, is seeing (eternal 'cinematic-bridesmaid') William Forsythe take centre-stage for a change, in a role that would usually taken up by some handsome muscle-man type. Believe me William Forsythe is neither muscular or handsome (except maybe in his wifes eyes?) But his acting chops, and all-round bad-assery, make for an interesting casting choice. Rounding off the ensemble, is George Segal (playing pretty much the loveable cigar-smoking asshole, he always plays) Richard Norton (more on him later) and Jo Champa (who, according to the blurb is a "internation" model....whatever the fuck that is?)

(One for dem lady-folk)

Pic opens with wise-ass rookie, waxing lyrical about the life of a hitman, the night before his first big job. He is to be teamed up on this 'hit' with seasoned pro (and yep, you guessed it....'The Best') John Hatch (Forsythe) and their target are four heads of the biggest crime families under one roof at the same meet-up (which turns out to be an arms trade, replete with a cheesy QVC style sales pitch that would have Ricky Roma wretching)

The hit doesn't go to plan (rather fucking obvious, given that the 'targets' are packing more 'heat' than the hit-men) and the loudmouthed rookie is soon taken out (but not before blowing himself up) leaving Hatch to engage in a car-chase (c'mon, this is PM after all?) against the one remaining mobster (who's limosine driver Carl, has teeth could give Austin Powers a run for his money) The obligatory (and possibly, borrowed stock-footage) car(nage) ensures, With Hatch eventually getting his man (with a little help from a fire-truck)

(Get to the Choppers!..........Carl and his snarl)

Back at HQ, Hatch tells his shadowy C.I.A. boss, Tronson (Segal) that he 'Wants-Out' (tm) but is asked to do 'One Last Job' and take-out Savannah Miles, a two-bit nobody, who is linked in a blackmail case against (corrupt) presidential candidate Terry Daniels (John Aprea.) Hatch refuses, but Tronson glibly retorts "She's just some low-life blackmailing slut...Do her on the way home for Christs sake?" whilst also threatening not to pay our hero for the last job. Hatch agrees, and sets out to find the woman.

("This time, I'm gonna play a loveable cigar-smoking asshole" thought George)

Hatch soon finds Savannah (working unsuccessfuly) at a local titty-bar, to which the displeased owner tells our shy heroine that "No-one gives a shit about dancing...they wanna see 'Bush' you understand?" forcing Hatch to not only kick the shit out him (and most of the bar) but to also realise that this woman may not be the slutty blackmailer than Tronson is making out?

(Top internation model?)

Following Savannah home, Hatch baulks at killing her alongside her young daughter as they both sleep, and upon further investigation, he uncovers that she is about to lose custody of said daughter to her estranged husband. Overhearing her plight in a confessional booth, Hatch tells Tronson that Savannah is not the blackmailer, and wants no part in her murder. Tronson (smokes more cigars) looks pissed off, and puts another hitman on the case.

(An always welcome...but criminally wasted...Richard Norton)

Drowning his sorrows in a bar, Hatch is confronted by 'work-collegue' Rogers (Norton) who taunts our hero with "Lost your balls, huh?" and "You can't turn your targets into people" before boasting he he now has the task of taking out Savannah. Hatch meanwhile, does any any self-respecting murderer would do, and goes to visit his father up in Rocky-mountain Nowheresville. Racked with guilt and realising that 'Family' matters (helped further by an arty-farty dream sequence) forces Hatch into "Doing something he's gotta' do" by heading back home and saving Savannah from the murderous clutches of Rogers.

Upon saving her from Rogers initial assasination attempt, Hatch and Savannah flee the scene. It transpires that her estranged sleaze-ball husband is behind the blackmail, and took the pictures over a decade ago at a drug-fuelled party the senator was at. They must race to find the daughter, not only evading Tronson, Rogers and the rest of the hit-men, but also (thanks to the political 'pull' of Senator Daniels) the police force

(The usual PM car-nage)

Without spoiling things further (like you'd need to be a fucking scientist to figure it out?) a lot of bad guys get shot, wrongs are righted, and even our portly hero gets his 'Fuck-On'.

Forsythe still has the same crazy look usually reserved for his bad-guy roles...which kind of makes sense, because all that killing would probably take it's toll on your weight and general appearence. And with a haircut from hell (think 'Three Stooges' Moe) mixed with 90's baggy fitting jackets, Forsythe is anything but the stereotypical 'stylish' hollywood assassin.

(Keeping the spirit of Star Strek alive, with nonsensical 'random flashing lights in a cardboard box' technology)

And just before you think it's about time me and this movie got a hotel room, let me tell you the one aspect that really pissed me off.. It wasn't the production values, the cheesy synth score, or the "Oh-Fuck-It" attitude in the movies final was this:


I mean c'mon guys. This is Richard Norton. The guy is a total badass. You've even got Art Comancho onboard, so what in Gods-blue-and-green-misery-orb went wrong with the fight scenes? No offence to Mr Norton (he's quite a good actor) but without throwing a single punch, there was little point in him being in this movie (Christ-on-a-stick, even the Lamentable ROAD HOUSE 2, had him kick a little ass...and that was made 10+ years after DIRECT HIT?) So I just thought this paragraph may serve as a warning to any Norton fans out there.

Overall, DIRECT HIT gets some things right (in terms of casting and plot depth) but lacks the really bat-shit crazy action set pieces, that PM do so well. Forsythe manages a bit of 'Rex-Kwan-Do' on a few bad guys, but mostly resorts to gunfighting (or 'Heroic-Bloodshed', to coin a 90's phrase) Had it not been for a fuzzy final third (which looked like out-takes from the opening shoot-out from NEMESIS) this could have been a stone-cold classic. The lack of Norton-Fu, makes it recommended to bad movie perverts (like myself) and PM completists. Good...but no cigar (probably because George Segal smoked them all as part of his salary?)

Classic Quote:

Hatch: "I guess I am what I am...a cold blooded murderer"
(Probably the second most unlikeliest chat-up line that ever led to an immediate love-sequence, since Shark Attack III?)


This movie reunites three thespians from Out For Justice....two of them are obvious, but can you guess the third?