STARRING: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice T, Kevin Pollak, Lindsay Wagner, Josh Evans, Mary Ellen Trainor, Victoria Dillard, John Amos, John Cothran Jr., Thomas Rosales Jr., Jesse Ventura and Linda Dona
An attorney is terrorised by the criminal he put away years ago when he was a cop.
Ricochet takes us to Los Angeles where we follow L.A.P.D officer, Nick Styles, taking down criminal Earl Talbot Blake after a botched drug deal which puts Styles into the media spotlight for how he takes him down. Seven years later, Blake escapes from prison during a parole board hearing to carry out revenge against Styles, now Assistant District Attorney, through a series of violent events to destroy Styles’ career and his life.
Ricochet is an early 90’s thriller with Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) in the directors chair, working on a script that’s been worked on by Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad), Menno Meyjes (The Color Purple) and Steven E. de Souza (Commando/Die Hard), which happens to star Denzel Washington going up against John Lithgow. It’s one of those films I’ve heard of and after finally finding a copy I’ve watched it and the film has as much cheese as the amount used at the Magillo Restaurant and Macro Supermarket in Wieliczka, Poland to make the worlds largest lasagna (mildly useless information 1.1).
The films key strengths come in the form of its protagonist and antagonist, played by Denzel Washington and John Lithgow. Denzel Washington is just so damn likeable and has a presence and charm that has you rooting for him regardless of the role he’s playing or even the film he’s appearing on and that’s no different here as he is entertaining here playing Nick Styles with flair and charisma, even when it comes to the films final act when he goes all out with the Styles paranoid persona and at one point manages to pull a performance in a scene that feels like a casting audition to play The Joker which never come to fruitition. He also worked out three hours a day, six days a week for four months so as not to look out of shape for his shirtless scenes (mildly useless information 1.2). Told to bring the crazy and instead bringing the whole damn asylum is John Lithgow as the creepy and troubled Earl Talbot Blake who may just have the most outlandish and crazy personal revenge vendetta scheme to ever grace the big screen (until Oldboy) and Lithgow sells it all perfectly for a film like this. There is one scene in which Lithgow has a prison sword fight sequence against Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura (yes, you read that right, a sword fight, to the death…inside a bloody prison!) which actually recreates the final duel from Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander (mildly useless in….no, actually it’s awesome information 2.0).
The problem the film has now however is that time is so definitely not on its side, with its pacing between rather confusing in terms of the passage of time (unless the screen conversion ratio was off, I got no eight years later etc. text) certain set pieces that are never fully explained (I mean, prison sword fight!) and the film actually kind of drags to the finish line when we get to the final act (the film is almost an hour and forty-five minutes long). The dialogue at times is terrible and yet hilariously 90’s at the same time which, given the pedigree of the writers involved we shouldn’t be too surprised by what lines come out (‘I bet he shit his pants, I can’t wait to look’ and THE most definitive quote that tells you that you’re watching a 90’s film ‘Coming up is more authentic police arrests followed by the Love Boat’). Some of the schemes that Blake goes through with Styles I think may actually never pass for a film today (at one particular moment Styles is drugged up and then raped by a prostitute…being taped and finally getting an STD in the process) as we witness it unfold on screen. The guy that played Lithgow’s ‘friend’ Kim was at times hilarious with his deliveries but for the wrong reasons. Also Mary Ellen Trainor reprises her role as newscaster Gail Wallens, which she played in Die Hard, meaning that Bruce Willis’s John McClane is in the same universe as Denzel Washington’s Nick Styles….if only the studio could see into the future and realise how popular the trend of film universes would become, there’s still time to get the two of them to share the screen together…..well, on second thoughts after how A Good Day To Die Hard went….let’s not.
It’s dark, very dark, gritty, violent and at times disturbing as the material is brought to life in this classic 90’s B-Film flair with A-list performances from Denzel Washington and John Lithgow, elevating the material given to them in the script. Dated but still a pleasure to watch as we no longer have films like this anymore that plays the cheese factor with a straight face. 5/10