Another top-notch "polizia" offering from Umberto Lenzi, the director I'm gradually gaining more and more respect for after watching the different genres movies he made. FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP is everything you could want an Italo crime film to be - fast-paced, full of furious scenes of action, with plenty of violence, snappy dialogue, and quality performances from seasoned genre performers. The central plot conceit - that the good guys must rescue the kidnapped girl who only has a week to live - leads to lots of tense situations, double crosses, and twists in characters, as some become allies and others enemies. The film has a large cast and many interconnected characters which give it a realistic edge as Lenzi creates a corrupt and violent world for his characters to live in - take for example the two minor robbers who hit people with bricks before they steal from the tills!
The action sequences are as great as always, with big guys letting loose with machine guns and innocent bystanders always getting caught up in the bloodshed. There are also some brief but cool car chases in which other road vehicles are literally smashed out of the way and moments of extreme violence that the genre is famous for. The casting is great, every actor here is perfect for his particular character, with lots of familiar faces for genre buffs. Taking the lead is Claudio Cassinelli (ISLAND OF THE MUTATIONS) who is always undeniably wooden, but to be fair he's not THAT bad here and could have been a lot worse - at least he's a believable policeman. Tomas Milian has great fun as the comic relief character "Garbage Can", but still proves to be instrumental in tracking down Brescianelli. Henry Silva is one of the best "bad guy" actors in recent history and puts in another commendably icy performance here and proves himself a force to be reckoned with.
Another nice touch is that Lenzi litters his film with references to Italian cinema. Posters for the likes of SALON KITTY dot the walls and the film even opens with lead characters watching a spaghetti western. Just a small but rewarding touch for fans of Italian cinema. FREE HAND FOR A TOUGH COP has all the gritty violence and action that a genre fan could want, and on top of that its bolstered by a strong story which puts its "immiment deadline" plot device to good use.
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