16 July 2010 | lost-in-limbo
"You screwed up Aaron. You always do"
The title sums it up. Vigilante --- yes experienced hired man to clean up a town. Force --- they become a powerful opponent that succumbs to own personal gain. "Anybody having a good time. Gotta be breaking the law. Let's bust them". This is what they were cracking out during the period, as "Vigilante Force" is purely a rough and ready exploitation slice out of the 70s drive-in market.
A small rural Californian town is skyrocketed by crime and violence due the boom of their nearby oil reserve. Ben Arnold turns to his war-hero brother Aaron (who doesn't have a great past with the town's folk) to lead a vigilante force to rid this problem by restoring law and order. At first this is what he does, but soon his back to his old ways as he abuses his power and becomes what he was their to rid. Ben shakes it off at first thinking that the town's folk aren't giving Aaron a fair go, but eventually they come to blows when Ben finally realises what Aaron is really up to.
Typical fodder, but accommodatingly well done and shining through its material is a traditional old-west build-up with an operatic closing between the brothers. Lined up is a bang-up cast of Kris Kristofferson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bernadette Peters, Victoria Principal, Brad Dexter and David Doyle. Kristofferson ideally fits in the role as Aaron, rugged but with a dark underlining and Vincent is sympathetic as the well-meaning, clean-cut Ben. A doll face Peter is charmingly angelic as Aaron's squeeze and Principal is spirited as Ben's flame. Andrew Stevens shows up, as well as Charles Cyphers and Dick Millar appears in a throwaway cameo.
Director / writer George Armitage's sufficiently tight and hardy handling keeps it moving at a fast clip, where the sharply bright narrative (it's all politics -- involving greed) is always busy (maybe a little too so at times with its tit for tat and scheming with a touch of corruption) and the intense action is nothing but brutal and chaotic. It really does get outrageous towards the dying stages. It's war! Bullets, explosions and leaping stunts galore
where it does go out on a bang. Just can't get enough fire power. The lean photography likes to invoke that guerrilla style when it wants to get up and personal, but also it establishes the sunbaked backdrop accordingly too.