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TARGET

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Gene Hackman, Matt Dillon, Gayle Hunnicutt, Randy Moore
Director: Arthur Penn
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 117 Minutes
Release Date: June 14, 2005

Film *1/2

Target is one of those films that runs completely by-the-numbers, no matter how many times the plot has been done before and after this movieís 1985 release. What Iím surprised to discover is that many numerous films after this film have accomplished the given task a whole lot better. Despite the strength of the lead actors, the result is a pretty flat thriller.

The movie involves a mild mannered businessman named Walter Lloyd (Gene Hackman), whose relationship with his son, Chris (Matt Dillon), is a bit less than communicative. Walterís wife, Donna (Gayle Hunnicutt), is taking a trip to Paris, leaving Walter and his son to enjoy a little male bonding. But then Walter gets a crucial phone call, and everything changes.

Receiving word that his wife has been kidnapped, Walter wastes no time in getting over to Paris to track down his wifeís kidnappers. The only catch is, Chris will have to tag along for the ride, resulting in the rarest form of father and son bonding experience. Added to this, Walter will have to explain to Chris his true identity; that of a CIA agent, which possibly serves as the reason for his wifeís kidnapping.

What follows is a most slowly paced, not very gripping, action drama held together by several chase sequences that donít really gather too much excitement. Throughout most of this movie, I was reminded of John Frankenheimerís 1998 film, Ronin, a movie that involved many car chases throughout Europe. The plot was more effective, the action way more invigorating, and unlike this film, you couldnít wait for what happened next.

Being that this reunited Gene Hackman with director Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, Night Moves, Little Big Man), oneís expectations couldnít be anything but high. Hackman, and Matt Dillon, who at that point was one of the more popular young actors of the time, do have some nice chemistry in some scenes, as they are the only two on screen for most of the movie. But it isnít enough to generate any juice in this tiresome action thriller.

To succinctly put it, Target misses the targetÖand then some.

Video *

Perhaps the main reason I wasnít able to get very engaged in this movie was the dreadful video job. Paramount has released the movie, through their CBS DVD outlet, and the result was a presentation that wasnít double checked before production was complete. This is the first movie on DVD Iíve seen that seems to have been completely converted from a VHS copy, judging from the quality of the print. If you doubt what Iím saying, the black ďburnsĒ that occur prior to a reel change even appear periodically in the top right hand corner of the screen. Easily one of the lesser video qualities Iíve ever seen.

Audio **

Despite the presence of a 5.1 mix, this twenty year old flick canít seem to get juiced up as it should. A lot of the action is confined to the front area, which for an action flick, isnít saying too much. Dialogue delivery is as good as it can get, but again, itís the bland quality of the overall print that causes this sound format to lack any real bite.

Features (Zero Stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

I had high hopes for Target, as anyone would, given the talent involved. Countless movies with the same type of plot have fared a whole lot better than what has been made here.

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