Directed by: Jon Hess
Starring: Thomas Ian Griffith, Lance Henriksen, Tony Todd, Charlotte Lewis, W. Earl Brown, Burt Young and James Earl Jones
Terry McCain (Griffith) is a Chicago cop who is pretty much on the edge. A member of the Tactical Narcotics Unit, he’s obsessed with taking down the slick mobster drug dealer Sal DiMarco, who, like John Gotti, seems to be made of “Teflon” and always manages to avoid jail time. During a shootout with the DiMarco mob, three million dollars in a suitcase goes missing. Naturally, DiMarco wants it back, and he assumes McCain and his team are behind the missing loot. So now the mobsters are after the cops, and McCain and his girlfriend (Lewis) must go on the run. Luckily Police Chief Devlin (Henriksen) has given McCain a wide berth to go off on his own (not necessarily “rogue”) and catch/punch/kick/kill the baddies. After some mild twists and turns in the plot, we see who is the true dispenser of EXCESSIVE FORCE.
The good news is, this is a movie that lives up to its title. There’s some hilariously, unnecessarily brutal violence, as if the writer (T.I.G. himself, interestingly enough) felt he HAD to live up to the title. Like he thought, “well, I already spent all day coming up with this title, better make sure the movie has an excessive amount of force”. Well played, Mr. Ian Griffith. Well played.
Then we have Lance Henriksen, doing his best as Devlin, Tony Todd as Frankie, again, struggling against some potential mediocrity and coming out quite well, the awesome Burt Young doing what he does best - being Burt Young. The movie could have used more Burt. The presence of Charlotte Lewis as the model Anna Gilmour was appreciated. And of course all the lesser-known names in the cast performed admirably as well.
Additionally, the Martial Arts Technical Advisor on the film was Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. Sadly he doesn’t appear on screen. So you have a much better than average cast for this sort of thing, which is nice, and they help to sell the more inane aspects of the plot without you even realizing it, because that’s what good actors do. And, yes, this movie is riddled with cliches, but for the most part they are the FUN cliches you want (You mean Terry McCain‘s use of excessive force is always getting him in trouble? No way!). Amazingly enough, this movie went to the theater! It never would today. Maybe the cast is part of the reason why.
But the movie is enjoyable, if not groundbreaking, and, yes, much of the brutality is fairly unwarranted, but this is EXCESSIVE FORCE people! While not nearly as violent as, say, Wardogs (1986), perhaps Griffith felt he went too far and didn’t want to be pigeonholed, so the follow-up, Ulterior Motives (1993), is less impactful. ‘Motives does not consistently and strongly follow up Excessive Force properly and a lot of steam was taken out of the T.I.G. train. That might explain why he isn’t really a household name, even among action movie fans.
For a fun beat/shoot ‘em up, try Excessive Force.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty