There’s not much kick in this cocktail, despite its mix of quality ingredients. Casually glamorous South Bay is the setting for a story of little substance as writer-director Robert Towne attempts a study of friendship and trust but gets lost in a clutter of drug dealings and police operations.
Mel Gibson plays Dale ‘Mac’ McKussic, a former bigtime drug operator who’s attempting to go straight just about the time his high school pal, cop Nick Frescia (Kurt Russell), is required to bust him. Frescia tries to dodge the duty by pressuring his friend to get out, but Mac owes one last favor to an old friend who’s a Mexican cocaine dealer (Raul Julia).
Russell and Gibson are pushed into a cat-and-mouse game, complicated by their attraction to high-class restaurant owner Jo Ann Vallenari (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Gibson projects control skating atop paranoia, and is appealing as a man you’d want to trust. Russell is fine as the slick cop who’s confused by his own shifting values, and Pfeiffer achieves a rather touching quality with her gun-shy girl beneath the polished professional.
1988: Nomination: Best Cinematography