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Directed by: Mark L. Lester
Starring: Lou Diamond Phillips, Scott Glenn, Chelsea Field, Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Divoff, Ed Lauter, and Stephen Root
Jeff Powers (Phillips) is an LAPD detective known for his aggressive streak. Rather than be a detriment to his career, it enables him to join the SIS, or Special Investigative Section, an elite team of cops given a wider berth to take down repeat criminal offenders by any means necessary. The group is led by Dan Vaughn (Glenn), a charismatic but violent man. Other members of the team include Angel (Divoff) and, as Larson, Yaphet Kotto in one of his best roles we’ve seen to date. As Vaughn and his ethical issues become darker and murkier, Powers, spurred on by his reporter girlfriend Kelly (Field), becomes wary and spirals into a moral conundrum - remain true to his brotherhood and its camaraderie - after all, they ARE stopping crimes, or, blow the whistle because their crime-stoppery knows absolutely no limits and at times comes with a very high price? What will Jeff Powers do?
There are a lot of really good things about Extreme Justice, starting with its title. This was before “extreme” things became the norm. The SIS gets EXTREME justice. But besides that, it has a top-notch cast, and the excellence of fan-favorites LDP, Yaphet Kotto, Andrew Divoff, Ed Lauter and Scott Glenn raise the bar considerably. The movie has back-to-back scenes of awesome cliches (someone should invent a word that means “cliche” but doesn’t have a negative connotation, because that’s what we’d use here) - everything from a female BYC (Black Yelling Chief), to Jeff Powers being called “A Loose Cannon” - but Extreme Justice really does provoke thought, as well as conversation with whoever you’re watching it with.
We talked about the fine ethical line some of the characters walk - and Powers, Vaughn and others deal with their issues in their own ways. We also talked about the nature of law and justice and things of that nature. This movie really does bring them up, which is more than you can say about a lot of other cop dramas of this type. Plus it has Yaphet Kotto dressed as a cowboy complete with hat, belt buckle and six-shooter.
The ubiquitous Ed Lauter’s role here (as well as the plot of the movie) is a precursor to the great The Sweeper, 1996 (note the “Cloak and Dagger” business card), and Scott Glenn’s role as Vaughn also is a precursor to another career-best role as Cole McCleary in The Last Marshal (1999). This is a manly movie about dudes who drink at bars, go to strip clubs, and shoot their guns at their steak-fueled cookouts. But this Brotherhood Movie, as we call them, has an uglier side and themes of adult peer pressure are explored. Try to imagine a cross between the TV show The Shield, The Last of the Finest (1990) and The New Centurions (1972). Now add to the mix the L.A.- based cop dramas of James Ellroy such as Dark Blue (2002) and Street Kings (2008), and you have an idea of where this movie lives.
Director Mark L. Lester, who has given us such gems as Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and Commando (1985), delivers a refreshingly-adult drama, a far cry from the stupidity of his later Hitman’s Run (1999). Here, there are no stupid, wisecracking teens or kids.
Extreme Justice is solid and recommended.
Also check out RobotGEEK's review!
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett