I watched this only because Sam Elliott was in it, expecting little from Patric & Leigh, whom I looked upon as TV-quality lightweights. I was quite wrong -- both can act with great strength when given a quality script (a rare item in Hollywood). This is an intense, driven tale about undercover cops firmly entangled in the drug underworld, with the criminal activity and hypocrisy evenly spread between the cops and the dealers. The accuracy of this portrayal and the obvious futility of the "War on Drugs" explain why this film was hammered loudly by the police departments, newspapers and mainstream critics. To anyone who hasn't spent time around serious junkies this film will be a bit of a jolt, but it's the best and most honest portrayal of this world ever put on film.
This is definitely not your standard two-cop "buddy" films that spew forth so often from the Hollywood colon. The story is not predictable, nor is the ending....nor the ending after that ending. Scripts like this are jolting because they make you realize just how awful most of the other films actually are.
Some of the secondary actors turn in surprisingly nice jobs here. Sam Elliott turns in his usual good work, always enjoyable, but several others are well worth mention: Max Perlich, the pathetic little snitch, and Gregg Allman, who with almost no dialogue does a very convincing portrayal of a malevolent local crime kingpin.
This is one of those rare movies where the soundtrack is worth owning. Eric Clapton does a superb score, and his selection of music for the saloon and drug den scenes is masterful.
I've watched this three times, each a few years apart, and it gets better each time. The film doesn't have rely on fancy car chases, lengthy gunfights or comic relief. It's simply a fine film done by craftsmen -- a rare treat indeed.
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