Harry Mitchell, an L.A. manufacturer with a fancy car, a nice house, and a wife running for city council, has his life overturned when three masked blackmailers appear with a video tape of Harry and his young mistress. He’s been set up, and they want $105,000. To protect his wife’s political ambitions, Harry won’t go to the police; instead, he shines them on and then doesn’t pay. They up their demands, so he goes on the offensive, tracking them down and trying to turn one against the other. Their sociopathic leader, Alan, responds with violence toward the mistress and menace toward Harry’s wife. Will Harry let up and pay off Alan or can he find some other solution?
User Reviews: The acting, dialogue, and casting was about perfect for this material. The big Hollywood studios apparently wouldn’t accept this script so Elmore Leonard had to go to Cannon (a.k.a., that company made all those horrible films in the Eighties). It has the feel of a low budget film, with a lot of rising stars, falling stars, people bumping into the camera by accident, and a director long past his prime, but it holds up pretty well. There’s not one stereotypical L.A. landmark or establishing shot, the film is better than to try and look generic.
Clarence Williams is a believably scary murderer, and the other villains equally repulsive and hateable in their own unique ways. If any character is underwritten, it is the protagonist and his wife, who just seem boringly bland and familiar, but that is sort of inevitable in these types of movies where everything hinges our needing to identify with the victim.
The film is entertaining as any other genre piece of the era, by far one of the better crime dramas of the Eighties, and easily the best of Cannon’s direct-to-video cheapos. I’d have liked it even better if it had stuck to its strong suit and went all in with its dark humor (as the film was flirting with the entire run-time but never committed to). The ending was kind of predictable, maybe other films have over-used the idea since but it doesn’t date well. Seemed like a throwaway climax.