Ricochet Review

An attorney is terrorized by the criminal he put away years ago when he was a cop.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

01 Jan 1991

Running Time:

109 minutes



Original Title:


Not quite as grandiose as producer Joel Silver’s Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, this all-action thriller serves quite nicely as a spoiler for Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, which boasts a very similar storyline.

Following such 70s black superstars as Richard (Shaft) Roundtree and Ron (Superfly) O’Neal, albeit in much less funkier duds, Denzel Washington is here a politically ambitious cop who becomes a law enforcement superstar by flamboyantly busting up-and-coming psycho John Lithgow.

While Washington is carving out a major career as an Assistant District Attourney, Lithgow is brooding in prison, plotting revenge. Lithgow escapes in an incredibly violent sequence — most jail-breakers kill a guard or two, but John Boy slaughters the entire parole board — and sets about wrecking Washington’s life, first in comparatively subtle ways like kidnapping him, shooting him full of heroin and videoing him being molested by a hooker who gives him VD, then graduating to the big time for a Die Hard style confrontation half-way up a tower, with improvised weapons, risky stunts and more squelchy violence.

With a screenplay designed to service the set-pieces and two good central performances — Lithgow, in particular, relaxes from his serious acting jobs with a display of gleeful nastiness and scenery chewing — this is a come-back for director Mulcahy after the disastrous Highlander II : The Quickening, establishing that the former video clip king can make as effective a streamlined Boys’ Own nailbiter as John McTiernan or Renny Harlin.

Some care is taken with the supporting cast, all of whom are allowed to be funny until the time comes for Lithgow to kill them, even if Ice T is pushing credibility a bit as a gangster who helps his buddy Washington out for the vigilante climax (“this is one case that’s going to be settled out of court,” claims the poster) and throws in a motherfucking rap theme song over the end credits.

Dynamite action. This is a good bet for a night with the lads. And weedy girlies can at least wake up every ten minutes when Denz takes his top off.

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