Working largely in cases of counterfeiting, LA based Secret Service agent Richie Chance exhibits reckless behavior which according to his longtime and now former partner Jimmy Hart will probably land him in the morgue before he's ready to retire. That need for the thrill manifests itself in his personal life by his love of base jumping. Professionally, it is demonstrated by the fact that he is sextorting a parolee named Ruth Lanier, who feeds him information in return for him not sending her back to prison for some trumped up parole violation. With his new partner John Vukovich, Chance is more determined than ever, based on recent circumstances, to nab known longtime counterfeiter Ric Masters, who is more than willing to use violence against and kill anyone who crosses him. Masters is well aware that the Secret Service is after him. Masters' operation is somewhat outwardly in disarray, with Chance being able to nab his mule, Carl Cody, in the course of moving some of the fake money, ... Written by
One of the very best films of the 1980s this was shamefully neglected and misunderstood by the critics. The problem is: on the surface it's just like an ordinary action crime thriller (and thus won't appeal to the arthouse crowd), except that it makes it difficult to identify yourself with any of the characters. In other words: it violates its genre rules. But this very fact makes it so unpredictable and thrilling, and a proper movie as opposed to a mere genre clone.
The good guys are flawed. This isn't really new, since the mid 1960s there were plenty of flawed heroes in Westerns or police thrillers. The difference is that not only their characters are flawed, they are vulnerable, destructible, they make mistakes. And they pay for their mistakes. Similarly the villains: yes, they are formidable and glamorous, but they are not in the league of the Blofelds or Sentenzas of moviedom. They make mistakes too. And they pay too.
A surprising asset is the film music by Wang Chung, a one-hit-wonder pop obscurity of the era. Their sound perfectly melts with the cinematography, especially in the stylish opening sequence.
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