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RICOCHET (1991) Dir. Russell Mulcahy. Written by Steven E. De Souza based on a story by Fred Dekker and Menno Meyjas. Starring: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Kevin Pollack, Ice-T, Victoria Dillard, Mary Ellen Trainor, John Amos, and Jesse Ventura.

John Lithgow seemed to be on a roll playing bad guys in the early 90's with this, Cliffhanger and Raising Cain apparently working out the kinks before he spent the next 10 years on 3rd Rock from the Sun. And as good as he is at playing the nice guy, he's even better at playing the baddie. Can you even get more evil than John Lithgow when he goes full psycho? I don't think so and of the psychos he has played none of them are more psycho-y than his turn as Earl Talbot Blake in Ricochet. Whether it's threatening to fuck the parole board chairman's dog, giving Denzel the clap, or battling white supremacist Jesse Ventura wearing only phonebooks, no one beats Lithgow for sheer nastiness - just look at that half smile and behold a real sleazoid. Russell Mulcahy of Razorback and Highlander fame dials back the style here and delivers a pretty by the book revenge thriller except this time it's the villain seeking revenge. Denzel is the perfect foil to Lithgow's foulness as the beat cop that put him away and later the assistant D.A. that Lithgow is out to destroy. Fresh off his Oscar win for Glory, Denzel shows us just why he became the star he is with charisma to burn and an ability to play genuine good guys with heart that you don't hate better than anyone of his generation and possibly since the classic studio days of the 1940's and Jimmy Stewart. But this is Lithgow's show and the film crackles every time he is on screen. Determined to destroy Styles one scandal at a time, Blake gives us one of the last great action movie villains and keeps the plot moving along from a gory power-tool heavy escape from prison to a showdown atop the underused Watts towers. Kevin Pollack as Styles partner and best friend is funny as ever, and Ice-T acquits himself admirably as always, but the early 90's seems to have been both men's sweet spots, so if Pollack or Ice-T is in it during this period you can practically count it as an underappreciated classic. 


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