Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summertime Killer, The - 3/5

Despite being released in a DVD double feature with an Italian poliziotteschi film, The Summertime Killer itself isn't a film in that subgenre. Though no doubt inspired by Italian crime films, this picture itself is a Spanish film and in turn is my very first Spanish crime film experience. To be honest I don't think I could have started in a better place.

The film begins with a young boy witnessing the murder of his father. This sequence is cleverly edited replaying many small sequences showing the audience how traumatizing it is for the boy. Years later a young blond haired man sporting retro cool 70's sunglasses is traveling the world, killing off big time crime bosses. A crime lord in New York starts to worry about his life and hires a cop (Karl Malden) to track down the killer. The cop tracks him down to Los Angeles and discovers the killer was the young boy from the opening sequence killing all the men who murdered his father. The young man, with one more crime boss to kill, decides to kidnap his daughter to lure him out of protection and predictably enough the young man falls in love in turn questioning his need for murder.

The films highlight is the grand motorcycle stunts as our main killer does a majority of his traveling on a dirt bike. The chase sequence towards the end is edge-of-your-seat material and one of the most underrated chase sequences I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. The films plot however feels disjointed as it makes some odd turns at a moments notice. First the films starts out as a revenge film then turns into a kidnapping flick. The characters also tend to make some really illogical decisions taking me out of the film momentarily.

Karl Maldsen is very likable as our quirky cop but newcomer Christopher Mitchum (son of Robert) seems to almost sleepwalk through his role. I understand his character is the strong, tortured silent type but he is no Charles Bronson and I found his character rather boring and uninteresting. Olivia Hussey as the crime lord's daughter is beautiful as ever and her sophisticated personality makes up for much of Christopher Mitchum's shortcomings as a strong leading actor.

Fans of European grindhouse cinema will find much to like here with an interesting cast, sure handed direction and some amazing action sequences. The weak male lead and awkward plot turns should be commonplace for fans of such films but those flaws keep this film from rising above other films in the genre and becoming a more popular cult favorite. I still say it's a must see for euro cult fanatics for the chase sequence alone.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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