Bullet Points: Excessive Force
After my review of Crackerjack earlier this year, I quickly realized we have a lot of Thomas Ian Griffith fans out there. When I came to that realization I knew that it was only a matter of time before I sat down and watched another of The Notorious T.I.G.’s movies. That time is now…
While his first big break was starring in The Karate Kid Part III, Excessive Force would be TIG’s first starring role in an action film. Excessive Force allowed TIG to make a great first impression.
- The Premise: TIG plays Chicago cop, Terry McCain. McCain is hell bent on taking down Sal DiMarco (Burt Young), an infamous Chicago gangster. McCain has spent years trying to bring DiMarco to justice along with his fellow cops Frankie Hawkins (Tony Todd) and Dylan (Tom Hodges). The movie opens with McCain and company raiding a drug deal involving some of DiMarco’s men. But things go south in a hurry… first McCain doesn’t exactly go by the book when he gets a confession from one of DiMarco’s associates, in fact one might say he uses EXCESSIVE FORCE (ding!) to get said confession. This confession is thrown out by the judge and DiMarco is once again a free man. One would think Sal DiMarco should be happy… but during the raid $3 million of his dollars went missing and after “interviewing” one of his associates who was involved in the deal and getting nowhere he turns his attention to the cops who were there. A dirty cop in Chicago?!
- Making It Personal: Sal’s goons go after Dylan first. They kill his girlfriend and kidnap him. They then proceed to break Dylan’s legs and shoot him in the head after he is unable to tell Sal where the missing $3 million is. Following Dylan’s funeral, Frankie’s apartment blows up, with Frankie inside… now all that is left is Terry McCain and McCain’s estranged significant other Anna (played by Charlotte Lewis of Men of War fame). Knowing he’s next, McCain gets the green light to do what he has to do to take care of DiMarco from his boss and soon to be Chief of Police, Devlin (Lance Henriksen).
- Vigilante Justice: McCain isn’t going to wait for DiMarco to come to him, so he decides to go to DiMarco. McCain kicks the crap out of two of DiMarco’s goons and has the big time Chicago gangster Sal DiMarco on the floor begging for his life as he points a gun at him… but he doesn’t shoot. McCain shows mercy. But the next morning the news is out, Sal DiMarco has been murdered. We quickly realize somebody has set up McCain, but who?
Excessive Force was a great vehicle for Thomas Ian Griffith. Griffith had a fantastic supporting cast to work with. And the story itself has a few twists and turns (one that I saw coming, another that I did not) putting it a notch above some of the bare basic storylines that action movies are known for.
It definitely feels like this movie was trying to make Thomas Ian Griffith a big time action star. You don’t accidentally cast a group of supporting players the caliber of a Lance Henriksen (Terminator, Hard Target), Burt Young (Rocky, Back to School) and Tony Todd (Candyman, Lean on Me). And while you won’t be mentioning Thomas Ian Griffith’s name along with the likes of a Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Griffith’s career continued and, as I said at the start of this review, he developed quite the fan base.
An interesting note, Griffith was not only the star of Excessive Force he was also the writer. And while his acting career has slowed down in recent years, his writing career continues. He has written several episodes of the NBC TV series, Grimm.
Before I wrap up this review, there’s one more member of the Excessive Force cast I have yet to mention, James Earl Jones who plays Jake. Jake owns the jazz club below McCain’s apartment and the two have been known to jam from time to time with Jake on the sax and McCain tickling the ivories. You’ve probably seen (or heard) James in many movies, but Excessive Force is the only place you are going to get to see James Earl Jones perform an Irish jig!