(director: John Schlessinger; screenwriters: novel by Erika Holzer//Rick Jaffe/Amanda Silver; cinematographer: Amir Mokri; editor: Peter Honess; music: James Newton Howard; cast: Sally Field (Karen McCann), Ed Harris (Mack McCann), Joe Mantegna (Det. Denillo), Kiefer Sutherland (Robert Doob), Beverly D’Angelo (Dolly Green), Philip Baker Hall (Sidney Hughes), Keith David (Martin), Olivia Burnette (Julie McCann), Alexandra Kyle (Megan McCann; Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Michael I. Levy; Paramount; 1996)

“With a cynical eye for the bottom line.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A bleak Death Wish exploitative crime thriller directed by John Schlessinger  (“Billy Liar”/”Marathon Man”) with a cynical eye for the bottom line. It’s based on the novel by Erika Holzer and is written by Rick Jaffe and Amanda Silver.

In the suburbs of Santa Monica, the middle-class married couple of Karen and Mack McCann (Sally Field & Ed Harries) grieve the brutal rape/murder of their teenage daughter Julia (Olivia Burnette). Through forensics, Det. Sgt Denillo ( Joe Mantegna) arrests the deliveryman Robert Doob (Kiefer Sutherland). But through a technicality in the law Doob goes free, even if certainly guilty. Karen  trails the sleazy killer around the neighborhood until he sneaks into her young daughter’s (Alexandra Kyle) daycare facility and threatens to murder her if she doesn’t stop following him. Soon Doob kills some one else and again the court does nothing. Karen thereby is goaded into becoming a vigilante seeking revenge.

The actors do a professional job and it’s professionally directed, but this is a contrived B film that can only raise the blood pressure of those who already think the courts are too soft on criminals. It makes its case for vigilante revenge so pat one has nothing to think over but accept its offensive findings. The director has strayed far from the days of his Midnight Cowboy.

REVIEWED ON 4/28/2017       GRADE: C