4 November 2001 | petershelleyau
what happened to law and order was a crime
This action picture directed by Armand Mastroianni has a reactionary message, which caters to the right to bear arms lobby. During the escape from a bank holdup Joe Dallesandro loses his accomplice robber brother, and Leigh McCloskey, as a bystander, his pregnant wife. However in these days of slippery lawyers and even slippier laws, Dallesandro gets off, since the stockinged mask the bandits wore does not allow for a positive witness identification. Since Dallesandro holds McCloskey to blame for the death of his brother, via enabling him to become a police target, and McCloskey blames Dallesandro for the death of his wife, the stage is set for the titular battle. Mastroianni has little of quality to work with here, with a screenplay that is the standard of "They grow up so fast. One day I left home and she was in diapers, and when I came home she was in her wedding dress", and concerning newspaper gossip "If somebody writes it, somebody reads it". However he does manage to slip in a few nice touches, like the repeated use of the America song - campingly played on a jukebox in a climactic shootout, Dallesandro stubbing out his cigarette in food to show how tough he is, a montage of quick cuts of "No" testimony from the witnesses in the trial, and the opposing parties allow for parallels and cross-cutting. He also alludes to the western in his staging of some scenes - a bar has swinging doors and screens a John Wayne title on TV - and there is an aerial view of the two men approaching each other before the face-off. Although the only actor who gives a reasonable performance is Richard Rust as the put upon County Sheriff, Dallesandro provides the hunk appeal. Still a handsome man all these years after his legendary nude appearances for Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey, he's certainly the sexier of the two men in their matching tight jeans. Dallesandro's gay epithet to McCloskey at the trial gets the required response, even if McCloskey appears to lack the imagination for it, and Mastroianni's tongue is in full cheek when he has Dallesandro buy a child an ice cream cone.