Relentless is a riveting, splendidly acted suspense thriller. Phil Alden Robinson’s fresh and invigorating script strikes a careful balance in focusing not just on maniacal killer Judd Nelson’s murderous escapades but also putting at film’s center the story of dedicated cop Leo Rossi and his supportive wife Meg Foster.
Format follows a pure Hitchcock suspense pattern: the audience immediately knows that Nelson is the so-called ‘Sunset Killer’, murdering LA denizens seemingly at random and leaving snotty messages for the police on telephone book pages.
Rossi is a recently promoted police detective anxious to go all out to find the killer while his experienced partner (Robert Loggia in a solid turn) moves slowly. Climax set at Rossi’s home is spellbinding, with excellent visual imagery to round off the story in satisfying fashion.
Director William Lustig keeps the screws tightened for an exciting, sometimes scary ride, while allowing for considerable warmth to be generated in the idiosyncratic family scenes involving Rossi, Foster and their young son.