52 Pick-Up is a thriller without any thrills. Although director John Frankenheimer stuffs as much action as he can into the screen adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel (previously filmed by Cannon in Israel in 1984 as The Ambassador), he can’t hide the ridiculous plot and lifeless characters.
Roy Scheider is an all-American hero, married for 23 years to the still attractive Ann-Margret, who has worked his way up by his bootstraps and after many lean years now owns a successful business and a luxurious home in the Hollywood hills.
Caught in a blackmail scheme by an unlikely trio of porno operators who film him in bed with cute young Kelly Preston, Scheider balks at giving up his hard-earned wealth, but even more at being told what to do.
Chemistry between Scheider and Ann Margret is minimal and undermines the film’s foundation. More lively are the three thugs who are fingering Scheider. Ring-leader John Glover gives the role such a decadently sinister turn that he’s far more interesting and lively to watch than Scheider.