An Innocent Man (1989)

Now this is pure 80s cheese at its best. You’ve got crooked narcotics cops doing  drug raids to private homes with no apparent warrants or back up and then sniffing coke in broad day light, the title itself is incredibly corny and played entirely straight, and the fashion is, shall we say, dazzling. Overall, the entire flick is absolutely delightful. As expected for an 80s thriller, the story itself is very run of the mill, and holds very little depth or innovation from today’s POV. One of the surprising highlights of the movie is when Selleck is forced to shank another prisoner to make his prison rep, and it actually leads to a small psychological character arc where he struggles to not submit to the prison yard world of violence, and ultimately fails. It’s a very powerful character moment for Selleck’s character when he finally confronts his tormentor and ends up having to shank him anyway in self defense, after he couldn’t go through with the kill. It has some nice resonance later one when he almost kills the other crooked cop in a moment of heated struggle at the end of the movie, but it’s an aspect that could have honestly used some more focus.  Speaking of the ending, the build up to it and the entire confrontation between the dope dealing cops and Selleck is developed incredibly hasty, is very plot convenient not to mention hammy. But somehow it still manages to be quite fun. I honestly can’t remember when I had so much fun with an action scene where on the surface, it’s so mundane and clichéd, but at the same time it’s got that 80s inherent gritty and intense feeling to it. When Selleck’s character is clinging to the car and gets trashed left and right as the getaway car bumps against parked cars on its way is very brutal and electrifying.

If I had to point out a flaw in the movie, it’s that they spend a bit too long on building to the moment where Selleck gets imprisoned. Taking your time does make you care more about his plight, but it also leaves very little time left to do anything after he’s gotten out on parole which is well past an hour into the movie, let alone satisfactorily set up the scheme for his payback. With the movie being almost two hours long, they could have trimmed a little from the beginning to make it flow better. Or alternatively, the could have maybe done it more efficiently by starting the movie in medias res with Selleck getting released from jail, and then via flashbacks show how he got framed, which could help to pace the movie better with clever editing.

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