Deadly Pursuit (1988) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Deadly Pursuit (1988) Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. With Sidney Poitier, Tom Berenger, Kirstie Alley and Clancy Brown.


It could be said that Deadly Pursuit is a film with an identity crisis. Released under the title Shoot to Kill, in the US, it’s like First Blood meets Lethal Weapon on the way to Deliverence, with Tom Berenger and Sidney Poitier replicating Riggs and Murtaugh in the great outdoors.

Part of the problem is that it isn’t as good any of the aforementioned. That said, it’s no turkey either. Sidney Poitier plays a detective on a manhunt for a serial killer in the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest, aided by a bad tempered Tom Berenger – a local guide familiar with the hostile environment.

While the script affords the occasional opportunity for some levity, Sidney Poitier’s central performance is stilted and fails to muster much in the way of chemistry with Berenger, who seems to sulk his way through most of the film. On the plus side, the outdoor locations are breathtaking, as are some of the vertigo inducing stunts and set pieces. The better moments, however, are offset by more dated aspects, such as regular bursts of  incidental saxophone trills and synthesised drum beats.

In the end, the real star are eye-catching environments. The script often feels like a rough first draft. In one peculiar exchange, racial paranoia seeps in as Sidney Poitier’s character appears to accuse a horse of being racist. Frustratingly, a little more character could have made it a contender. As it stands, it’s only ever functional at best. 2.5/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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