My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on three films by John Flynn.
THE OUTFIT (1973)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve seen John Flynn’s THE OUTFIT and it remains one of my favorite movies. Not only is it the best Richard Stark adaptations (anyone who thinks Boorman’s POINT BLANK is better is out of his or her gourd!) but it’s one of the few films that captures the tone of great pulp literature.
I never would have cast Robert Duvall as Parker, or in this version “Earl Macklin”, but he pulls it off, playing the career criminal with a natural toughness. He’s surrounded by an incredible ensemble cast from the villainous Robert Ryan to his sidekick Joe Don Baker to his love interest Karen Black to a series of perfect Noir-veteran cameras from the likes of Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook Jr., and Marie Windsor. I love the episodic nature of the script, some of which are so good they stand on their own. One for example (my favorite) involves the under-appreciated Richard Jaeckel and his unfaithful sister-in-law.
John Flynn’s no-nonsense direction is a perfect pairing for the pulp material. He doesn’t overthink it. He doesn’t try to be better than what he’s been provided. He just gives it to us straight, like a punch in the face or a shot in the guts. Has there ever been a less pretentious director? I love him and I love this movie.
Watched on Amazon.
THE SERGEANT (1968)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
After cutting his teeth as an assistant director for Robert Wise, John Sturges, and J. Lee Thompson, John Flynn came out the gate with this impressive yet forgotten debut.
THE SERGEANT is a moody, tense picture. To call it a military drama or categorizing it as a film about homosexuality is to oversimplify this complex depiction of masculinity, friendship, and war. Rod Steiger is incredible here but his performance couldn’t carry the picture without counterpart John Phillip Law. Both actors bring so much depth and subtext to a script that masterfully avoids spelling it all out for the audience.
If there’s a weakness to Flynn’s debut, it’s in the romantic subplot between Law and the French girl. On its own, it might have worked but lined up against the ones with Steiger, they come off as feeble and sometimes unnecessary.
The ending of this film is unforgettable and THE SERGEANT proves that though Flynn’s career took him towards the crime genre, he was capable of directing more quieter films about the human struggle.
Watched on Amazon.
OUT FOR JUSTICE (1991)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Watching this film for the second time, I can tell why many consider it to be the best of Steven Seagal’s action pictures. Much of that must be attributed to director John Flynn who grounds the action star and doesn’t let the story get too far fetched.
OUT FOR JUSTICE also benefits from being set over of the course of one day. A cop is killed and his partner has to find the maniac killer who is on the loose. It gives little time for subplots and distractions, something that makes JUSTICE a refreshing watching in an age where action movies are over-complicated. John Flynn mostly succeeds in keeping this star vehicle simple and lean like his other work.
Unfortunately, an unavoidable shoot ’em up finale diminishes the movie’s realism and an embarrassingly hokey ending prevents OUT FOR JUSTICE from being more than just good.
Watched on Tubi.