4 December 2015 | Michael_Elliott
A Different Kind of Bronson Film
Messenger of Death (1988)
** (out of 4)
After three women and several children of a Mormon family are brutally murdered, reporter Garret Smith (Charles Bronson) begins to investigate and it seems the possible suspect might be between two rival members of that family. As the reporter gets deeper into his investigation his own life comes into jeopardy.
MESSENGER OF DEATH is that Bronson movie where he kills nobody. With that said, it should come as no surprise that this film was the least popular of his Cannon movies at both the box office and the video rental market. If you ask die-hard Bronson fans what their least favorite Cannon film is more than likely they're going to name this if they've even seen it. MESSENGER OF DEATH doesn't completely work but it's still a mildly entertaining mystery that at least gives us a chance to see Bronson in a different type of role.
J. Lee Thompson does a pretty good job in his directing duties and especially during the opening sequence where a mystery man enters a house and murders several people. The editing of this sequence is very well-done and the director handles it quite well. I'd argue that we're also given a couple fun action scenes including Bronson in a jeep going up against a couple semis trying to run him off the road. As far as the legend actor goes, for the most part he's actually pretty good here. He's certainly believable as a reporter and it's nice seeing him in this type of role. The supporting cast is also good in their parts and you'll also see some familiar faces including Gene Davis (10 TO MIDNIGHT), Tom Everett and Kimberly Beck (FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER).
So, where does MESSENGER OF DEATH go wrong? For starters, the budget was extremely low so I'm sure many interesting scenes were never filmed. Another problem is that its main story just isn't all that interesting. The mystery aspect could have been played up a lot better but too often the film falls back to a formula action picture where we see Bronson whooping up on people. These action scenes just don't sit too well with an otherwise talky picture. MESSENGER OF DEATH isn't your typical Bronson movie but it's certainly not the worst of his career.