Stars: 4.2 of 5.
Running Time: 91 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Written by David Lee Henry (ROAD HOUSE, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO). Music by David Michael Frank (THE HERO AND THE TERROR). Starring Steven Seagal, William Forsythe (EXTREME PREJUDICE, PATTY HEARST), Jerry Orbach, Gina Gershon, Julianna Margulies (ER), Raymond Cruz (CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER, THE SUBSTITUTE), bit part by John Leguizamo.
Tag-line: "He's a cop. It's a dirty job... but somebody's got to take out the garbage."
Best one-liner: "Yo, fuck nuts!"
There's a pizza parlor down the street with a signed photograph that depicts Steven Seagal enjoying a slice at their counter. I guess I never thought about too much. But after seeing OUT FOR JUSTICE, that humble little pizza parlor is, in my mind, a veritable cathedral. A national treasure.
Director John Flynn is a master craftsman. He was the kind of detail-oriented, old Hollywood workman who could've become a Steven Spielberg had his proclivities leaned toward family-friendly fare instead of movies where Steven Seagal bashes some dude's brains in with a hard salami.
The salami-bludgeon is hurtling through space with such speed that it made an adequate screencap nearly impossible.
This is why John Flynn is the man. A man of action. And OUT FOR JUSTICE is all about action. Martial arts action. Mafia action. Cop action. Revenge action. Old school, rip-roaring action. Meat cleaver action. Action action action.
It's a gritty slice of the 70's served up on a 90's plate with an 80's garnish. It's the kind of work that should result in Sam Fuller takin' a long drag from one of his token cigars and delivering an appreciative nod, which is really the only kind of work that's worth talking about.
Seagal plays a "wop motherfuckah" named Gino, an old-New York-style cop with deep-rooted ties to the community- but right now, he's got only one thing on his mind: and it's revenge. In particular, revenge against a totally psychopathic, crack-smoking, innocent-bystander-killing, pasty, portly madman played by the one and only William Forsythe.
Does anyone want to lay down some odds on whether Forsythe is actually smoking that crack?
This one speaks for itself.
WILLIAM FORSYTHE WILL BREATHE IN YOUR FACE, AND YOU WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LIKE IT
I still want to see a movie where Forsythe plays Richard Masur's evil twin. Then maybe they team up with another pair of bad twins, Nick Nolte and Gary Busey, to fight white-collar crime perpetrated by, say, Lorenzo Lamas. The whole thing ends when Ironside shows up, and he, Forsythe, and Busey voraciously devour Lamas to the soothing strains of "Hungry Like the Wolf." High-fives commence. Freeze frame.
During the apocalyptic final duel, Seagal accidentally broke Forsythe's nose for real. Forsythe likely responded by laughing maniacally and lapping up his own blood.
Now, whether or not this movie remains faithful to the codes, operations, and minutiae of neighborhood organized crime in Brooklyn is not for me to say. I will say that I was completely convinced- and in the context of this movie, isn't that all that matters? Flynn's matter-of-fact style and David Lee Henry's brawny screenplay lend themselves to this kind of verisimilitude- each anecdote and interaction possesses the plain ring of truth; every character seems perfectly capable of meting out the necessary violence and/or tough talk. It's peppered with old school New Yorkers like Jerry Orbach and Sal Richards, there's a few nods to classic NY crime movies like MEAN STREETS and FRENCH CONNECTION, and the violence has a sort of sordid, bone-crunching, back alley aesthetic to it.
The whorehouse shootout in the last act even hearkens back to the barbaric finale of Flynn's own ROLLING THUNDER.
The supporting roles are solid and believable, from Julianne Margulies' despondent neighborhood hooker to Gina Gershon as Forsythe's spitfiery sis:
to Jerry Orbach as a "gettin' too old for this shit" cop.
In other words, Jerry Orbach, do you mean you're... too old... to... dress like THIS:
Our hero has a ponytail, a penchant for wearing berets and vests, and, at one point, uses a pool cue to duel a martial arts expert aptly named "Sticks" ("POKE HIS EYE OUT!").
He even saves puppies. He's a dedicated follower of fashion. He's a well respected man about town, doin' the best things so conservatively. Apparently he is the culmination of human perfection, according to Kinks lyrics.
I wish I had the balls to gallivant about Coney Island with a beret upon my crown and a puppy within my grasp.
In other words- yes, this movie has moxie. I mean, look at how Seagal defuses potentially volatile situations-
Plus, how many movies end with a minor villain rolling around on the ground groaning "My balls, my balls..." as a puppy takes a piss on his face?
I say- only the best ones. A little over four stars.