This is a great movie. If you’re Thomas Ian Griffith. Excessive Force is Griffith’s masturbatory fantasy where he’s a tough cop who plays by his own rules. As the writer and star, Griffith manages to leave no stone unturned in search of every 12 year old boy’s idea of how these rogue cop movies are supposed to go. Which I would be totally in favor of if Griffith wasn’t such a tool.
Throughout the movie, Griffith comes across like a self-righteous prig, whining about how he’s been after some mob boss for three years, but the guy keeps getting off when he goes to court. Three years? You’re not a cop who plays by your own rules, you’re a cop who sucks!
Then, when he finally gets the chance to kill the mob boss, the guy cries and begs for his life and Griffith acts like now he’s just too freaking good to kill such a simpering wuss. He even says that you’re supposed to bring your enemies to your knees, not have them fall on them in front of you! Thank you, King Leonidas!
Griffith, proving that he’s out to make this the worst combination of all the best parts of cop-on-the-edge movies, spews this bit of philosophy to his fashion model wife while strolling along the Chicago lakefront. I understand the wading-pool-deep soul searching about kicking ass properly, but what is this fashion model wife stuff? Bad ass cops are either loners, avenging dead wives, or getting too close to the sexy witness they’re trying to protect. They’re not pissing and moaning to their cop buddies about whether their on again off again wife is going to remember his birthday!
You know what else I hate about Griffith? Everything. Let me be more specific. He has a preening pretty boy’s longish hair that only worked on Rick Springfield during his heyday on General Hospital decades ago. He’s wearing an earring. Cops who like to violate the rights of dirtbags should only be wearing an earring if they are undercover as a biker.
He’s always flouncing around in his stylish dark clothes, including long black overcoat. Sure, Steven Seagal gets away with his leather trenchcoat, but Steve is in his own universe. On Griffith, it’s like he’s playing dress up. When I see Jeff Speakman in a pair of relaxed fit blue jeans in his later movies, I believe it!
Griffith also managed to surround himself with all the characters he imagined that we would expect in such a derivative effort. There’s his evil captain, played by Lance Henriksen. (He’s even managed to be cliche in the movie’s casting!)
You’ve got James Earl Jones as the saxophone-playing nightclub owner that lets Griffith stay in the apartment upstairs while he and his old lady try to work things out. Even better, is that Griffith is fond of sitting in on piano while James is pretending to play the saxophone! Is it wrong that I was rooting for the mob boss and the evil captain?
The story revolves around Griffith’s startling original idea of a drug bust gone wrong and $3 million of missing drug money. The mob boss wants his money back and demonstrates the importance of this by stabbing one of his guys in the ear with a pen.
He figures that one of the three cops on the scene took the money. There’s not much of a mystery here since Griffith is too much of a goody-goody to have taken it. That leaves either his best friend Dylan or the Candyman himself, Tony Todd! We quickly find out that it wasn’t Dylan since he has his knees broken, gets shot in the head, and is dumped in a junkyard by the mob boss.
The worst part of all this is that it all happened on Griffith’s birthday! He and Dylan were supposed to go out later that night, but now his birthday is like, totally ruined!
On the bright side of things, Dylan had already bought Griffith a present. It was a baby kitten! Awww! This is great because it leads to Griffith’s old lady complaining about how he broke into her house to get drunk and feed his cat! Ouch! Worst birthday ever!
After Tony Todd apparently buys the farm in an explosion, the mob goes after Griffith who is by now hiding out at a farmhouse somewhere outside of Chicago. Somewhere between all the shooting and karate kicks that are happening, Griffith manages to lay his old lady. The next morning though it’s back to work as he fights off a bunch of mob guys and actually kills a guy with a pitchfork! Is he Dirty Harry or Jason Vorhees?
By now he realizes that someone close to him has betrayed him since only a few people knew about the farmhouse. Griffith rolls back to James Earl’s bar, accuses him of selling him out and actually pushes the old man down! I was willing to let the scene pass where he beat a confession out of a guy lying in a hospital bed, but beating up senior citizens whose only crime was appearing in Field Of Dreams? That’s just being a bully!
After figuring out the various and quite predictable double crosses that went on, Griffith finally gets down to the business of confronting his evil captain. As you might expect, a one on one match begins and as is usually the case, the middle-aged bad guy is able to beat up the super stud martial arts expert who has spent the previous hour and a half single-handedly killing the entire Chicago mob while still having time to feed his cat, bang his wife, and push old men around.
There’s loads of violence here for you and Griffith is quite fond of showing us how well he can kick. There’s even two different scenes of him running and jumping in the air in slow motion to deliver a particularly devastating kick, but it all reeks of a guy trying to prove how cool he is. He’s actually a humorless bore.
I’m still trying to figure out what the point of the evil captain working with the mob to kill Griffith was. If the crooked cops had the money and the mob didn’t know it, just let them think it was Griffith and let them duke it out while you’re enjoying the money.
Annoyingly routine with all Griffith’s personal touches ringing false, though the last shot of all the evil captain’s household goods being loaded into a Salvation Army van was a stroke of deranged genius.
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