Malone | Chicago Reader

Malone

Burt Reynolds as a former CIA agent who runs up against a fanatical group of right-wing survivalists trying to take over a small Oregon community. Some anonymous work from Reynolds, as well as the rest of the cast, but director Harley Cokliss obviously wants it that way. Cokliss, whose Black Moon Rising set some kind of record for action dissociation, puts the same sensibility to work here: faces loom with an odd King Vidor-esque monumentality, and Cokliss never seems so happy as when he's stylishly blowing things up or finding eccentric camera angles to frame the fractured narrative. The mood is effectively paranoid, and there's a hint of Melvillian abstraction (J.-P. rather than Herman) in the brooding, stylized imagery, but the story is pure pulp and the politics never develop beyond elementary cartoon. Still, it's engagingly tense and kinetic, full of kitschy visual portent, and Cliff Robertson, as the mad survivalist chieftain, gets some memorable, beady mileage out of his .22-caliber eyeballs. With Kenneth McMillan, Cynthia Gibb, Scott Wilson, and Lauren Hutton; based on a novel by William Wingate.

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