30 November 2013 | lost-in-limbo
"I'm a person. Not a hero".
It might paint itself as a rough and tumble, by-the-numbers 70s revenge thriller and for most part it's typically generic in its story's progression, but there are some strong themes and capable performances by its cast led by Jim Mitchum and Cathy Lee Crosby. There's a brutal and downbeat side to some scenarios, but never does it becomes overly exploitative despite its angle on forced prostitution and underground violence. The bad guys are scum
truly scum. Where the seedy backdrop of Los Angeles breeds crime and those people take advantage of young naïve runaways looking to hit it big in LA. Some sequences do pack a punch and the script, while not entirely rounded does do enough to evoke some emotional pull when it comes to the overall payback.
Sixteen year old Betsy Calhoun flees from her Montana ranch heading to Los Angeles, but her dreams soon become a nightmare when she's kidnapped and sold to a prostitution ring. Her older brother Jim heads to Los Angeles to find her, but finds little help until he meets a social worker and a former gang member who knew of his sister's kidnapping.
Jim Mitchum in the lead role is stolid, but fitting with a more psychical performance told through his facials and in doing so making it more effective. You do feel his pain. He shares good chemistry with a head strong Crosby. Half of the film focuses on his search, while the other follows that of Karen Lamm's wholesome turn as Betsy. Watching how she becomes a prostitute, to how she copes with it and the touching relationship she forms with Anne Archer's prostitute character. Some moments do have a disturbing edge. Not unexpected, but they're powerful because there's enough time invested in these characters. So the story moves between different plot arches before all coming together and offering a surprise or so.
The film looks bare-bones and on the cheap, but it remains authentic with its on shot locations and gritty action exchanges. Nothing about the direction really ignites itself, but there are set-pieces that craft out an exciting barrage of vicious violence. Like the intense gunfire jousting involving moving lifts was a nice touch. Its plain look might have that made for TV feel, but it doesn't hurt it. At times it can be slow and talky, but its steady handling keeps to its strengths and never over delivers on the old-hat set-up.
"You know. You're breaking my chops".