Friday, June 10, 2016

Hard Time: The Premonition

Year 8, Day 161 - 6/9/16 - Movie #2,361

BEFORE: I'm doubling up on these (relatively) short made-for-TV movies with Burt Reynolds, because I'm planning on going up to see my parents this weekend, which means taking the Amtrak overnight train to Boston so I'll arrive on Saturday morning.  If I can't sleep on the train then I may arrive exhausted, which means sleeping through Saturday daytime, which will give me less time to watch movies over the weekend.  Plus I need to double-up twice between now and July 4 in order to get the appropriate film that I want to land there.  Anyway, I've been one movie behind in the count, compared to the number of days in the year so far, so this will even things out.  

Movie #4 in the Burt Reynolds chain, with 8 to go after this one. 

THE PLOT:  Logan McQueen, the hardest and most fearless cop in Florida, faces a series of bombing attacks in Miami, and he ends up getting closer to a convict who says that he is able to foresee the explosions.

AFTER:  I see this sort of plot from time to time, where a good cop gets framed for murder and then we see him have a particularly rough time in prison, because he put so many criminals there himself.  They did it in "Watchmen", and I'm now watching Jim Gordon go through this same situation on the latest season of "Gotham", and dozens of other movies do this sort of thing, too.  But there was a weird relationship in "Hard Time" between Logan McQueen and his mentor/father figure Charlie Duffy, played by Charles Durning.  Duffy was on the take, but McQueen couldn't let him go to prison, he'd never survive it - so he didn't really put up a strong defense and went to jail in his place.  Couldn't he have convinced Duffy to give back the money he took from the mobster, wouldn't that have been a better solution to the problem?  

But there's another reason to send McQueen to jail, and that's to put him in the proximity of a serial killer, who seems to be getting precognitive dreams about car bombings taking place across Miami, making blonde women afraid to start their cars - so why didn't everyone just walk to work for a week?  

If you're going to hire an actor to play a serial killer in jail, you can probably do a lot worse than Bruce Dern.  So there's an obvious nod to "The Silence of the Lambs", as Dern's character falls just short of shouting "Quid pro quo!" as he demands to get a visit from his daughter, in exchange for revealing what he knows about where the bombings are going to happen.

The killer's got a daughter, and she's got her own issues.  But McQueen at least tries to get her to visit her father in the joint, and whether or not it's too convenient that he also falls for her, well, that's for you to decide.  There's an attempt to suggest that she might be the bomber herself, but since she never visits her dad, that wouldn't really explain how he's getting his information, unless he's psychically connected to her - in which case, he wouldn't need for her to come visit, they could just communicate telepathically, which would be handy. 

But since we know the killer's not REALLY psychic, he must be getting this information some other way, and this means that the storyline has to bend over backwards to make this possible, and I'm not sure that in doing so, it provided a valid explanation.  Who, exactly, were the people responsible for the bombing, and why were they blowing up blonde women?  And did it have anything to do with one of them wearing those weird eyeglasses?  Maybe his prescription was driving him crazy... 

NITPICK POINT: McQueen gets a sentence of 1-5 years for murder?  Even for a policeman, that seems kind of short.  Where was the law-and-order district attorney when it was time for his sentencing?  Also, we don't really get to learn how much time he spent in prison, was it one year or five, or somewhere in-between?  Maybe they let you out early if you make friends with people on death row and learn information that can help stop crime on the outside...

NITPICK POINT: The letter fragments left behind at the scene of each bombing - jeez, these bombers leave behind more clues than a Batman villain.  And McQueen is the ONLY person capable of putting 6 pieces together to form three letters?  Nobody else has the capacity to do that?  And what were the letters, what did they spell?  A proper director might consider giving a piece of information to the audience, once in a while.  If not properly explained, this becomes a useless set of clues that goes nowhere. 

Outside of Reynolds and Dern, the majority of the acting here is really poor, Durning is over-the-top and annoying (as usual), and everyone else seems like they're just phoning it in.  Seek this out only if you want to see Burt with long, white hair and wearing a prison jumpsuit.  

And once again, the IMDB got the plot-line wrong - it states that buildings, schools, public places were destroyed by the bombs.  Nope, it was only car bombs - I guess nobody cares enough about made-for-TV movies to, you know, actually watch them and make sure the posted plotline is correct. 
Also starring Charles Durning (carrying over again from "Hard Time"), Bruce Dern (last seen in "Support Your Local Sheriff!"), Gigi Rice (last seen in "The Man"), Michael Buie (also carrying over from "Hard Time"), Roscoe Lee Browne (last seen in "Topaz"), Michael DeLuise, Pepper Sweeney, Richard Riehle (last seen in "The Odd Couple II"), with a cameo from Paul Bartel.  

RATING: 4 out of 10 tattoos

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