July 22nd: The Guns, the Bad and the Uglies

Extreme Prejudice

149. Extreme Prejudice (Walter Hill, 1987)

Nick Nolte is Texas Ranger Jack Benteen, trying to bring the law to a part of the country that just can’t shake the Wild West spirit. Powers Booth is Cash Bailey, cross border drug baron and formerly Jack’s best friend. That’d be a pretty straightforward 80’s action film, but if you throw in Michael Ironside’s crack black ops crew and bank robbery – you’re on to a winner.

Walter Hill’s homage to Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch just drips with masculinity. With a cast of big, strong men with booming voices and ‘interesting’ faces, a storyline of old friendships tested to breaking point and the possession of a relatively unimportant woman as a central conceit – this is pure manliness writ large. There’s plenty of guns and plenty of opportunities to use them. There’s no real subtext here, no major issue dealt with in any meaningful way – this is good guys and bad guys and some guys you aren’t quite sure about until the end. It’s kinetic, booming and broad in every way except for the watertight direction from Walter Hill. What a phenomenal cast too! B-list wonders pop up in every direction. William Forsythe, Clancy Brown and Rip Torn crop up to round out the cast of familiar faces, each one ugly in their own beautiful way. Extreme Prejudice climaxes in a crazed shootout with bullets in every direction. It’s lean genre film-making and there was a time when Walter Hill did it very well, before he got involved with nonsense like Supernova.

Much thanks to Conor who has been telling me about Extreme Prejudice for ages and bought me an excellent Walter Hill box-set for my birthday.