- Movie Rating -

Target (1985)

| November 8, 1985

Target is a very dumb movie made by and starring very smart people.  It was directed by Arthur Penn, the man who directed Bonnie and Clyde.  It stars good actors like Gene Hackman, Matt Dillon, Josef Summer and Gayle Hunnicut.  And yet, the movie looks and feels like bad television, one of those silly escapist deals where we see dumb Americans in Europeans setting shooting guns and driving cars down staircases.

The movie tries to overcome its plastic façade by opening with a lot of a day-to-day details, giving us an American family that we don’t believe really exist for one solitary second.  The family drama boils down to the father, Walter (that’s Hackman), a lumber yard worker who is too boring and patted down for his son Christopher (that’s Dillon) who is into stock car racing.  The drama starts when their mother Donna (that’s Hunnicut) heads off to Europe and has apparently been kidnapped. 

What happens probably won’t surprise anyone who has ever owned a television set.  Family tensions are strained between father and son as they head off to Europe in search of mother and we got those scenes in which nasty foreigners shoot guns at them to keep them from getting too close to the truth.  What the screenwriters hope to achieve with the family scenes are thrown right out the window once Hackman and Dillon get to Europe and the shooting and the car chases take over.  When we get to mother, who (spoiler alert) is tied to a chair rigged with dynamite, I started to wonder if this was some kind of parody.

None of this stuff matters anyway.  When you break it down, it is all meaningless because once mother is rescued, the movie is over and there’s nothing to think about.  I would compare it to a movie like Missing which took the same approach of two family members looking for a missing love one, but instead of violence we got a lot of real-world intrigue, a commentary on the situation in Central America.  That film seemed full blooded and real, this one feels like a boring escapist fantasy.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.