The British sure knew how to deliver gut-punching, bittersweet crime- thrillers in the 70s and "Sitting Target" easily ranks up there as one the best. Convicted killer Harry Lomart and his fellow inmate Birdy Williams break out of prison, where Harry only has one thing on mind. To exterminate his unfaithful wife who before breaking out asked for a divorce, since she met someone else, was pregnant and couldn't wait any longer for Harry to serve his time. Harry and Birdy plan out their actions and go about trying to get some money of their former criminal partners. Also on their trail is police inspector Milton, who originally caught Harry and is determined to protect the hunted woman.
At heart the focused plot (adapted from Laurence Henderson's novel) is a simple, but well done revenge story fuelled on by Oliver Reed's assertively grim and snarling performance. It's a turn of torment, but lusting with aggression as Reed goes about his dogged, unpleasant business. Working alongside him is the outstanding Ian McShane. He brings a certain smarmy and self-assured presence that calculatedly fits, which makes his character somewhat hard to read. The combination between the two was very dependable and the relationship believable which makes the fanatical twist very hard-hitting as things are not quite what they seem, although it's not that unforeseeable. The drama then thickens leading to a furious climax. Jill St. John is splendid as Harry's wife and a steadfast Edward Woodward makes the most of his straight-up police inspector role. Also making appearances are Frank Finley, Freddie Jones, Robert Beatty and the ever enticing Jill Townsend.
Director Douglas Hickox brings to the table a stark, harsh reality with its rough violence, gritty London locations and compact pacing. There's plenty of character drama stemming from its tough, but distinct script that when it came to the short bursts of action (which is carefully placed and orchestrated), it does pack a wallop on the emotional front, as you feel every last drop. Innovative camera angles stem from Edward Scaife's cinematography of a brooding backdrop and Stanley Myers' magnificent music score is truly baiting in its unhinged instrumental tones.
"Sitting Target" is a raw, no-bull revenge yarn with many striking contributions.
"We're doing everything together, like always".
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