Tag Archives: treat williams

Our third and final salute to Rip Torn: HBO’s Flashpoint (1984)

Flashpoint (1984) is a film starring Rip Torn, Kris Kristofferson, Treat Williams and was William Tannen’s directorial debut.  Flashpoint was also the first film produced by Home Box Office (HBO)—on a side note, it was thought-provoking to see the original HBO introduction again when the revolving HBO letters came at you against the outer space background.

Williams and Kristofferson are jaded, yet prankish border patrol officers fighting a pointless battle against the steady flow of illegal immigrants into Texas.  Kristofferson is a gentle cynic, highly decorated veteran with quiet personality that hides his resentment for “the system.”  Williams is a younger idealist and bit of a hothead who foolishly speaks out against injustice and corruption.  Their friendship and camaraderie is profound and real in a way few movies from Hollywood are ever able to depict.  For whatever reason Treat Williams and Kris Kristofferson are a pair of actors whose talents haven’t always been well utilized by the Hollywood machine though they should have been after their performance in Flashpoint.

On the dark side of the force, Flashpoint has characters like “Department of Public Safety” (i.e. Texas Ranger) Rip Torn and other malevolent government agents that show us how true villains are simply focused career men who ruthlessly believe in the perverted values they’ve espoused.  However Torn, at the end of the day, changes and is willing to sacrifice his life for it.  In the last scene Torn, looking back on his own life and anticipating Kristofferson’s edgy future, shouts “Do it!  Be the one who got away!  Whatever happens, should’ve happened years ago.”  Taking responsibility for his past and seeking redemption by staying behind to hold off the government killers to “buy time” for Kristofferson’s get away.

Now back to the story.  Kristofferson and Williams discover a Jeep buried in the desert with a skeleton, a fishing box containing a high-powered rifle and $800,000 in cash.  The bills and the skeleton’s driver’s license are dated circa 1963.  Soon, the two guards find themselves running for their lives from Federal agents who are determined to kill anyone in connection to the discovery.

The two reason that since the cash has been ignored for that long, they have as much right as anyone else.  Kristofferson wants to split the cash with Williams and immediately head for Mexico.  Williams is tempted but it doesn’t pass his smell test or his nagging personal code of honor.

To appease Williams, Kristofferson does some detective work to see whether or not the cash is clean.  They come to the shocking realization that they are against forces much bigger than they ever imagined—and Williams pays the ultimate price of it: that the driver of the Jeep was the true assassin of John F. Kennedy, not Lee Harvey Oswald, and that the Government, with help from the Dallas Police Department, were involved with the assassination.  VHS viewers (for you younger people out there those were large cassettes which, when placed into a machine called a VCR, would play movies) who rented the movie in the 80’s, the mystery was revealed on the back cover of the cassette box.
Sneer all you want that Flashpoint is “just another JFK conspiracy movie,” and has been virtually ignored by critics and audiences since Reagan was President, but the film is one of the best movies of its time.  Rip Torn’s sagely advice for a shell-shocked Kristofferson at the end will stick with you.  “Don’t be a martyr.  We already got enough of those.  Be different.  Be the one that got away.”

My advice to you—don’t let this one get away.

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Posted by on April 9, 2011 in Movie Reviews


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Our First “B” Movie Review: The Substitute II-Schools Out.

The first Substitute movie starred Tom Berenger as a mercenary who went undercover as a schoolteacher to find his fiancées tormentors.  While this movie in and of itself qualifies as one of our “B” flicks it is not the one we are taking a look at today.

I must confess The Substitute 2-4 are some of my favorite “B” movies of all time.  In fact one could even call them “C” movies if you so desired.  The Substitutes 2 to 4 all star Treat Williams as, you guessed it, a mercenary who for one reason or another has to go undercover as a teacher in order to right some wrong.  Williams, before the Substitute sequels, had the lead role in Prince of the City (1981), a film many consider to be on par with Raging Bull, Serpico and Taxi Driver.  I guess that was the 1980’s, because in the 1990’s I think all of the Substitute sequels went straight to video and with good reason.

In The Substitute II-Schools Out, mercenary Karl Thomason (Treat Williams) arrives in Brooklyn to attend the funeral of his brother Randall, who was murdered while trying to stop a carjacking blamed on the “Brotherhood,” a vicious street gang.  Thomason believes there is something more than a mere carjacking gone wrong and decides to go undercover as his brother’s replacement in a Brooklyn high school where his brother taught history i.e. The Substitute.

The B-movie really comes through in this film.  The blood is decidedly exaggerated as it looks like the special FX men used ketchup packets when someone was shot.  There is (of course) the token sex scene and the “Substitute” is well versed in combat as a mercenary decidedly does not decimate his opponents right away, instead he routinely has these modest encounters beating them down a notch every time.  Without question this movie is so flawed it would make me crazy, but for some unknown reason I can watch and enjoy all of the Substitute sequels (which get worse as they progress).  I guess we all have our soft spots for “B” or even “C” movies—what are you going to do?  You just may get a laugh or two.


Posted by on August 14, 2010 in Movie Reviews


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