Growing up I was well aware of who Sidney Poitier was and his importance to the evolution of cinema. I was also aware that this film marked his return to the big screen for the first time since 1977’s A Piece of the Action. Pretty big news. Although I did not see this at the theater it was one of those titles our family rented as soon as it hit the video stores on VHS. Although no classic I must say it sure is enjoyable and the first hour is very solid.
This hostage/mystery/chase thriller comes from director Roger Spottiswoode. The film opens with a nasty hostage scene leaving Poitier in a foul mood when things take a turn towards out right murder. The identity of our villain will remain unknown for the time being. Following a lead towards the Canadian border Poitier’s FBI agent must turn to mountain man and tracker Tom Berenger for help in nailing his man. It seems that our mysterious killer has joined in with a five man hiking group led by Berenger’s girlfriend Kirstie Alley. I am not giving his identity away but the casting director has done a good job giving us hikers played by Andrew Robinson, Richard Masur, Clancy Brown and Frederick Coffin. All have been known to play some bad dudes on screen.
With a two day lead Tom and Sidney take some dangerous routes over mountain tops and peaks to play catch up. This is where we get the fish out of water scenes that although I find them comical somehow don’t do the film justice as it breaks the tone the first half hour sets up with the opening hostage taking scene. Sidney as a big city FBI agent has a hard time dealing with mother nature and comedy ensues. I won’t give away anymore here as I don’t want to spoil the identity or where the chase takes us.
Berenger and Poitier work well together here against the scenic beauty of British Columbia and Alley makes for a fine mountain girl. The actor who turns out to be our killer comes off suitably dangerous and unsavory as well. I have no idea why Sidney selected this film for his return but it’s a fun ride and worth looking into. He would take on another FBI role in the same year as this title but the film was not widely released. Little Nikita was the film casting him opposite River Phoenix. More on that tomorrow.
Give this shoot a shot.