30 January 2008

Flashpoint

United States - 1984
Director- William Tannen
Thorn EMI Video, 1984, VHS

Director Tannen hasn't done ass in the way of film since this, his debut. Probably 90% of his films are ass, but admittedly I've only seen two of the other films he directed, both of them among Chuck Norris's worst films. In that context anyway, Flashpoint should seem pretty good, and I think William Tannen would agree.
Ernie (Treat Williams) and Bobby (Kris Kristofferson) kick it off as two unruly Texas Border Patrol agents, a thankless job just made thankless-er by the announcement that the department is making some personnel cutbacks. And to add insult to injury, they themselves have to install the geo-sensors that will monitor the border instead of them. The first half of this movie is all pretty straightforward, at least when compared to the second half, but now it definitely warrants a second viewing, when I'm actually paying close attention. Let's just hope this convoluted political conspiracy trick doesn't rub thin too fast.
In the bush, Bobby accidentally discovers a jeep buried in the sand, and after digging it out finds among the contents a sketeton, a scoped rifle and 80,000 bucks. Seeing it as his and his buddy Ernie's chance to get lost, he lets him in on the find. Despite his fiery temper, Ernie is scared of getting caught and hems and haws, dragging his feet along the way. Their jerk boss assigns them to stake out a remote airstrip where drug shipments are arriving from Mexico, but they must cooperate with some super shady federal agents led by the icy Agent Carson. When the plane lands it's clear that the Feds have something up their sleeves when the bust is foiled by aberrant gunfire. All this business is a little weird, but it's set to get weirder as soon as Ernie and Bobby start to trace the info in the skeletons wallet. Some disconnected phone numbers in Washington DC, and a license plate. The Fed exceeds the friendly groping demarcation line and gets altogether too friendly. E & B's plan starts to unravel.
Once all the serious "conspiratorial cover-up" starts flying, I'm still not sure where the "flash-point" is, but everybody gets distinctly more hostile towards each other. The interaction between the characters throughout the entire film has almost been a wonderful dream, but the final resolution, despite the setting, is historically abrupt. In the final dial up, the ultimate reveal concedes at least one of two unfortunate facts, either:
a.) you have a working knowledge of JFK conspiracy theories, and figured this movie out in the first 5 minutes.
b.) you didn't pick up on that connection in the first hour and 20 minutes but will, in the last 5 minutes, accept and be convinced by a flashing crosscut shot of a JFK death newspaper article, and a desperate morality monologue.

This movie doesn't rock, but it tries hard, and it's worth sticking around through the stellar dialogue even if the payoff is barely worth the money.

2 comments:

rl said...

Treat and Kris, together in one place.
That's a ... uh... treat.

Ty said...

Good review! Thought this was a solid thriller. Huge Treat fan!