(director: William Lustig; screenwriter: Phil Alden Robinson; cinematographer: James Lemmo; editor: David Kern; music: Jay Chattaway; cast: Judd Nelson (Buck), Robert Loggia (Bill Malloy), Leo Rossi (Sam Dietz), Meg Foster (Carol Dietz), Patrick O’Bryan (Todd Arthur), Ken Lerner (Arthur), Mindy Seeger (Francine), Angel Tompkins (Carmen), Beau Starr (Ike Taylor), Harrirt Hall (Angela Taylor); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Howard Smith; New Line Cinema; 1989)

“Violent but undemanding suspense yarn.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William Lustig(“Uncle Sam”/”Far Out Man”/”Maniac Cop 2“) directs this violent but undemanding suspense yarn, noted for its outstanding chase scenes and the best performance in Judd Nelson’s career, It’s weakly written by Phil Alden Robinson, the director of Field of Dreams (1989). The so-so pic for some unfathomable reason spawned three sequels.

The LAPD turns down Judd Nelson’s application for a policeman’s job. The deranged Judd subsequently becomes a bloody serial killer, who picks his targets from the phone book and forces them to assist in their own execution. At the crime scene he taunts the cops by leaving a message addressed to their ineptness on a a ripped-out page from the phone book. The psycho uses his knowledge of how the LA cops operate to outsmart them. Flashbacks retrace his troubled childhood, dealing with an abusive LA cop father (Beau Starr), who made child-rearing into a boot camp police experience.

It features the efforts of the dedicated cops, the gung-ho rookie transfer from NYC Leo Rossi and his more mellow veteran partner Robert Loggia, to bring in the madman, known as the ‘Sunset Killer,’ despite their different attitudes toward their work. Meg Foster is Rossi’s supportive wife.

No surprises in this unimaginative but technically capable cops and robbers drama.

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