Deadly Pursuit (1988)
Poitier Pursues a Perp
When a man kills two hostages and escapes FBI Agent Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier) feels guilty that the bad guy got away. But the killer has a much darker plan as he joins up with a group who are going hiking through the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest, being guided by Sarah Rennell (Kirstie Alley). The killer plans to eventually kill all of the hikers except Sarah who he wants to guide him across the border into Canada. Stantin still on the killers trail enlists the help of Sarah's boyfriend Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger) to guide him through the unforgiving country something which Jonathan thinks a city slicker like Stantin is incapable of doing.
I remember at the time there was a lot made of "Deadly Pursuit" or "Shoot to Kill" as it was known then because it was the first time in 10 years that Poitier appeared in front of the camera. And Poitier's performance was good, a solid return to acting but nothing special from the actor who earlier on in his career set the screen on fire with his powerful performances in powerful roles.
But "Deadly Pursuit" had something else to make it interesting and that was the decision to keep the killer's identity from us for a good chunk of the movie. It certainly adds a good deal of mystery to things although anyone who loves movies will spot an actors name in the cast list and quickly put two and two together when they hear the killer's voice over the CB radio as Stantin tries to capture him during the opening scenes. In fact those early scenes are worth mentioning as they set the tone for the rest of the movie with the opening featuring a tense, relentless chase combined with some brutality first as we see one person gunned down and then see the bruised and blooded body of another victim, shot through the eye.
The thing is that get beyond this and what we end up with is a buddy movie as Agent Stantin ends up working with Knox who are like chalk n cheese. The thing is that Poitier and Berenger have good chemistry when it comes to this buddy set up giving some initial antagonism followed by some humour but also respect when first Stantin saves Knox's life and then vice versa. In a way it is the routineness of this buddy set up which holds "Deadly Pursuit" back as it is a tried and tested idea which by 1988 had been done countless times before. Not only that as anyone who also wants solid logic from their movies will find themselves left with a fair few "why" questions.
What this all boils down to is that "Deadly Pursuit" is a solid movie, a solid unlikely buddy set up, a solid chase set up and a solid performance from Sidney Poitier. But whilst it has style and good performances it isn't spectacular.
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