Monday, March 8, 2010

The Sweeper(1996)  
  * * *1/2

Cast: C.Thomas Howell, Jeff Fahey, Ed Lauter, Janet Gunn

Directed by Joseph Merhi

Howell stars as a hot shot killing machine cop who has just wiped out the ninth suspect in his attempt to arrest, however such makes him eligible to join Justice Incorporated, a vigilante task force that wipes out bad guys that fall through the cracks, however when said gang might be responsible for Howell’s tragic past (His family was wiped out by anonymous gun runners) Howell turns his guns on his employers in a most satisfying and exciting action flick. The Sweeper is also among the best straight to video action flicks ever made. I think what makes the PM movies so much fun, is that they take a fairly unoriginal premise (in this case The Star Chamber is the movie being ripped off) and they punctuate said story with so much action that you never think that you might’ve seen it all before. Also what PM movies tend to do is put new novel touches on action sequences in that while one can see numerous exciting car chases, one can see their signature style yet kitchen sink attempt to provide a viewer with action that they've not seen, at least not quite like this. Indeed the climax in particular has Howell doing battle with bad guys while holding on to the wing of an Air Plane, or a car chase that involves picking up bottles of propane spilling out everywhere to which numerous fireballs are ignited. Some would argue that these films are merely mindless and trading in only on special effects on action but I believe that is what the point of action is. However what makes The Sweeper even better than the usual product is C. Thomas Howell’s charisma who is clearly having fun in his role but also manages the more sensitive scenes such as his interaction with his wife that give his character an interesting edge. Indeed he plays it enough to be tongue in cheek but yet actually creates a strong character that is likable and easy to root for. Also balancing him out is the always great Ed Lauter who plays a character not unlike his character in Death Wish 3. The Sweeper then is not the type of movie that will be studied by film classes for decades to come, but for the action fan, The Sweeper is a diamond in the rough.

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