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Extreme Prejudice

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Walter Hill (48 HRS.) returns to familiar action turf (and almost to top form after bottoming out with Brewster's Millions and Crossroads) with this story of an old-fashioned Texas lawman (Nick Nolte) who clashes with a special forces unit assigned to eliminate a Mexican drug dealer (Powers Boothe). Hill intends a familiar values-in-conflict story line (flattering, as usual, to tradition at the expense of unscrupulous modernity), but the real line of tension is the relation between Nolte and Boothe, once close friends, now sexual and moral rivals. Boothe comes on as pure 40s archetype, a brooding John Ford apparition in white suit and Stetson (the moral/visual paradox is obvious but mythically effective); he's an odd, commanding figure, and Nolte, shrinking into his ranger outfit (huh?), really can't compete. Still, the character interactions are strong, especially for this depleted genre, and Hill's tight, efficient styling recovers a lot of lost formal ground: his framing and crosscutting are as sharp as ever, and the bloodbath finale is, improbably, a model of intelligent restraint, the classicist's answer to Peckinpah baroque. With Michael Ironside. Maria Conchita Alonso, and Rip Torn in a scene-stealing cracker-barrel turn. (Bolingbrook, Forest Park, Ridge, Orland Square, Plaza, Golf Glen, River Oaks, Water Tower, Woodfield, Grove, Dearborn, Evanston, Evergreen, Hillside Mall, Hyde Park, Norridge)

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