Busting (1974)

R   |    |  Comedy, Crime, Drama


Busting (1974) Poster

Defying orders to lay-off the case, two Los Angeles vice-squad cops go after a local mobster and use unorthodox methods to achieve results.

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6.3/10
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7 May 2011 | lost-in-limbo
9
| "I know, some things stink".
Gee… doesn't the 70s have some cracking crime thrillers… some of these even fall in the cracks, which this one undeservedly does and in which case I would put it down as one of the best the decade had to offer. Writer / director Peter Hyams' debut feature "Busting" is an excellently pitched comedy thriller with outstanding performances by Elliott Gould and Robert Blake as two Los Angeles vice squad officers Michael Keneely and Patrick Farrel who rage a war against a well-respected crime kingpin Carl Rizzo (Allen Garfield), but also find themselves fighting corruption inside the force for their constant harassing of Rizzo. There they decide if it means doing things outside the book, well they'll do it to get their man.

The surefooted plot might seem dated and rather routine (frustrated cops battling criminals and the law, in which they feel like they are fighting a lost cause), but the innovative script is constantly witty / stinging in its observations (that especially goes for its downbeat, but ironic conclusion) and the chemistry between Gould and Blake simply ignites. The narrative seems to be strung together by sporadic plot threads, but there's a certain awkwardness to its cynical approach that just makes it so odd. The interchanges between the two cops and also with Garfield are bitingly dry, but enjoyably so. While there's a playful tongue-in-cheek style, it can be exhaustingly aggressive (you know the brutality featuring red paint) and edgy. Hyams skilfully stages the lean action with gritty, but frenetic authenticity as the bombastic score kicks in. Watch how the camera-work always instinctively moves around, like it has a mind of its own by following the action with numerous tracking shots. Just look at the relentlessly thrilling market store shootout / chase. Earl Rath does a hypnotic job behind the camera. Hyams keeps it snappy and makes great use of the grungy urban setting and seedy strips that really do bring the film to life. The cast are fantastic in their roles. Garfield reeks of confidence and the support features the likes of William Sylvester, Logan Ramsey, Michael Learner, Antonio Fargas, Corbelia Sharpe and the dominating Sid Haig as Rizzo's bouncer.

"Gotta stay alive man. Gotta stay alive."

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