30 December 2002 | bob the moo
Famous cast is misused but still an enjoyable entry
Having had his career, ambitions and whole life destroyed as a result of actions by Richard Stuart, David Benson's brother kills himself. David gives his daughter a ticket to her mother's house and goes to Las Vegas to confront Stuart. However when he pulls a gun on Stuart, David's is unable to do it. David gets a call and later meets a mystery woman in the car park who says she has information to bring Stuart down, but while in the car park Stuart is killed with David's gun. Having sneaking to Las Vegas the daughter, Melanie, begs Perry Mason for help Mason in town to witness a boxing match. Mason starts looking into who else had a motive to kill Stuart, while Ken Malansky tries to track down David's mystery alibi.
As I always say there are some things that are so made to formula that you pretty much know that if you like one then you'll like them all. Songs by Phil Collins are one example and Mason movies are another. They all have the same basic elements and all end the same way. The plot here is the normal, innocent person framed by unknown murderer is defended by top lawyer who will probably get them off with lots of shouting etc! The investigation is OK without being gripping. I think it is OK because it is interesting but it is impossible to be ahead of it because it all comes out of nowhere and couldn't be guessed. Usually the plot adds something new to the mix by having a sidekick for Drake or such like. Here the mix is the Defiant Daughter who gets in the way and does her own investigating. This is a little annoying at times but works maybe once.
The cast as all very good this time around. Usually there is one well-known face in the support cast but here there are plenty. Burr is Mason as easily as I am myself and is good. Moses does his usual business as Drake but Hale has more to do than usual. In one touching scene she draws information out of the dead guys' secretary by sharing the mutual bond for their boss that both have. It is good to see more character brought out of Street. Lewis is good and almost avoids being an annoying kid role. The suspects are all pretty big faces Vaughn, Kercheval (Dallas), Culp and Burns. However they were clearly all attracted by being able to spend some time in Vegas during the shoot. Most have three scenes that must have been done in the same week. For example Vaughn has one scene at the card game, one with Mason and a headshot or two in the final courtroom scene. This is the same for Kercheval. It is done well enough to make you feel like they're still around but it's a shame that such a good cast (for the Mason TVM's) is not fully utilised. One upside was an early role for black actor Lennix as the prosecutor. He is not as good a foil for Mason as others have been but it was good to see a black actor given a prominent role.
Overall this is enjoyable, partly because of the Vegas location as well as a lively plot. It's no classic but it is a good Mason movie if you like that sort of thing!