The Mean Season (1985)
Long time leading man and cult favorite Kurt Russell finds himself tangled with a murderous serial killer who at first befriends Russell’s star reporter but finds jealousy creeping into their relationship when Russell gets more media attention then he does.
“I don’t want to see my name in the paper next to pictures of dead bodies anymore.”
Russell stars as a burned out reporter working in Miami who wants to pack it in and move to a small time paper in Colorado with his girl, Mariel Hemingway in tow. While he’s gearing up to make the move his editor Richard Masur throws him an assignment, The body of a woman has been found shot on a local beach. With cameraman Joe Pantoliano tagging along, Russell covers the story allowing the script to introduce the two assigned police officers on the case. One is the co-operative Andy Garcia, the other is the always volatile Richard Bradford.
Russell’s life is about to take a turn for the worse when the killer likes his writing and how he’s covered the story. And so begin the phone calls to Russell’s desk from the films psychopathic killer, Richard Jordan. “Your my conduit to the public.” The game of cat and mouse has started with Jordan leading Russell from murder scene to murder scene.
With every article published, Russell’s fame is growing both in print and on the nightly evening news where he gives interviews on just what is being said between him and the unknown killer. Hemingway isn’t impressed with where this is taking Russell personally and points out in heated argument, “It’s turned into a collaboration.”
As the bodies pile up and Jordan sees the fame that Russell is achieving, he looks at it as if Russell is stealing his thunder. He puts it in his warped mind that fame comes with a price leading to his kidnapping Hemingway. Things have just gotten a little to real for Russell who must now rely heavily on Garcia and Bradford to find her before the telephone calls quit coming.
Russell, like many actors has a large body of work to look back upon and many of the titles get lost over the years. This may not be the greatest flick he ever appeared in and doesn’t have the cult following of his work with John Carpenter but it is worth a look for his honest portrayal of a man caught up in more than he bargained for. Sure there’s a rather overdone scene where he takes a leap off a bridge but that’s easy to forgive since Kurt is an action star of note when he wants to be.
Director Phillip Borsos has a great cast here to work with of both veterans like Bradford (always a mean S.O.B.) and William Smith, not to mention Russell himself but up and comers like Garcia and Pantoliano.
Richard Jordan I find an odd choice to play the part of the killer and that’s not to say he wasn’t good. He has a memorable scene opposite Russell in disguise that’s fun as we are in on it but Russell is made out to be an ass in the eyes of his readers. I’ve always associated Jordan with some films I grew up loving like The Yakuza, Lawman and Chato’s Land to name a few. Jordan died far to young at 56 after completing the epic Gettysburg in 1993.
There’s a good musical score in here as well from Lalo Schifrin that adds to the ride of this Mean Season with Russell in fine form between gigs for Carpenter.