My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on three films by John Flynn.


LOCK UP (1989)

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

I was surprised that this late-80s Stallone vehicle leans more into the drama than the action. Supported by the gritty touch of director John Flynn, that focus could have made a great prison picture and opportunity for the action star to show his acting chops (as he has recently) but a weak script constantly prohibits this film from being any better than watchable.

The whole premise is faulty. The motivation for Donald Sutherland’s warden to be so determined to keep Stallone’s convict character in prison is weak and hence the film has no solid foundation. It’s a shame to say that the recent, sillier ESCAPE PLAN actually has a better plot and I suspect Stallone made it to finally scratch the prison picture itch he didn’t quite get to with this one. Because the script isn’t strong enough, Flynn isn’t able to pull off the dramatic tone he’s going for. The film is at its best when it falls back on the action Stallone was known for. The violent final twenty minutes are the sharpest and Flynn executes a pretty exciting finale. It’s just too bad the rest of the film doesn’t have that efficiency.

The other highlight is the late Tom Sizemore in one of his first roles.

Watched on Amazon.



Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

What appeared to be a DEATH WISH-knockoff is a much more subtle drama about neighborhood violence in the hands of craftsman John Flynn.

Jan-Michael Vincent leads the cast and does a fine job of showing a simple man struggling to take responsibility in a difficult situation. He defies his pretty boy looks and turns in a gritty performance that shines most in the final violent, shell-shocked moments of the movie. The rest of the cast is pretty good too from Danny Aiello to Art Carney.

What doesn’t work are the villains and some poor decisions with the script. In a film that seems determined to be a more realistic take on the vigilante thrillers of the 70s/80s, the bad guys are still cartoonish. We never really know what makes them tick and that would have been an additional layer which could have elevated this film to the next level. On top of that fault, the script is packed with far too many instances of innocent characters getting hurt before our protagonists finally reach their breaking point. It’s repetitive and eventually tedious as we await the inevitable conclusion.

Otherwise, this is another good John Flynn picture which proves once again the grounded touch he brought to genre pictures.

Watched on Tubi.



Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Director John Flynn elevates this direct-to-video thriller to a higher level but is still unable to escape it’s bottom shelf script. He guides a solid Stephen Baldwin performances, perhaps the best work I’ve seen the actor do. It might not be as showy as his USUAL SUSPECTS character but Baldwin delivers more nuanced, heavy work here as a detective haunted by his son’s death. The film is worth watching just for him.

Otherwise, the mystery is convoluted and lost my interest halfway through. There are so many supporting characters and tangents to the plot which draw away from Flynn’s best instincts, which are to rely on the internal drama between Baldwin and his character’s wife. In those moments, the film feels fresh and stands out from the many serial killer movies that have come and gone over the years.

Watched on Tubi.