Walter Hill’s hugely enjoyable film presents a disintegrating and depraved New York City and is inspired by Xenophon’s Anabasis, the attempt by 10,000 Greek mercenaries to return home to Greece after their failed mission to overthrow the Persian emperor.
Are we really supposed to buy the apotheosis of a heroin dealer, his elevation to the status of a black rebel and business pioneer? The worst type of Hollywood hokum. A pity, because there is an interesting story to tell here – about the proliferation of drug culture in American cities, its connection to the Vietnam war and so on. Podgy Russell Crowe, who plays the crusading cop in the film, looks remarkably like Ricky Gervais.
Don Siegel’s film is dedicated to the FBI and its crusade against ‘trigger-happy punks’, but you still end up finding the robbers more interesting and entertaining than the cops. Mickey Rooney is miscast as the eponymous Baby Face Nelson.
Robert Wise’s outrageously plotted film noir. Lawrence Tierney plays the psychotic killer, though more interesting are the mental foibles of the characters played by Claire Trevor, Elisha Cook Jr and Audrey Long.