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James Woods is "at his cold-blooded best" and Brian Dennehy shines in "one of the very best roles hes ever had" (Variety) in this "captivating and mesmerizing psychological thriller" (The Hollywood Reporter) in which trusting your partner can be as deadly as trusting your enemy. After years of loyal service, professional assassin Cleve (Woods) has been let go by the corporate empire he helped build. Now he wants revenge in a tell-all book. From different sides of the law and opposing ends of the moral spectrum, Cleve and best-selling author Dennis Meechum (Dennehy) forman unusual partnership. But when Meechum's daughter is kidnapped by Cleve's former employer, Meechum discovers exactly what kind of man he's been partnered with as he's pulled into an explosive confrontation that will leave only one of them standing!
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You can't hate a guy for wanting respect (James Woods)t. You have to admire his intelligence and technique for getting what he wants, and flashes of sophisticated humor in the process.
You can't hate Brian Dennehy - he's got that kind of face. I only faintly disapproved of the way he solved the conflict between his duty as a cop and his duty to his publisher and his career as an author. Both of them loved their families deeply. Yet . . .
The chilling effect is just starting to set in. There is one! In context of the story, the two of them are very much alike - compartmentalized, so the ethics and morality of what they're doing never collide with the actions they're taking to meet their objectives.
Best Seller was written by by B-movie icon Larry Cohen (writer/director of It's Alive and Q) who always farmed out his more commercial scripts (I, the Jury; Phone Booth; Cellular) to slicker directors. In this case Best Seller was helmed by John Flynn who does easily his best work since the cult classic revenge flick Rolling Thunder ten years earlier. Flynn keeps things moving with a nice, no-nonsense style that's a perfect match for the smart script--there's no attempt to turn Best Seller into something big and flashy. Stars Brian Dennehy and James Woods couldn't be more perfectly matched.
The Amazon streaming version of Best Seller is supposedly HD but I didn't notice any improvement in picture quality over the DVD.
I highly recommend this movie to any James Woods' fan and if even they're just looking for a thriller, this takes the cake. Definitely, I think this movie should come out once more to show just how brilliant Woods is as an actor, exceptional thrilling. I loved it all the way, buying it on DVD since the 24-Hour Rental just isn't enough time for me to watch it over and over, and over again. Loved it!!!
If Cohen had directed Best Seller, the satirical elements of a corporation engaging in a string of murders would probably have taken a more front-and-center role in the plot. I can imagine Michael Moriarty as a truly unhinged version of Cleve, chewing the scenery, and savoring some of the character’s more outrageous moments. That version of the film that only exists in my mind would have been great. The actual film, as directed by John Flynn, isn’t great, but it is very good.
The rest of my review is on my site: http://obsessivemovienerd.com/2014/02/20/the-cohen-case-files-best-seller-1987/