Forgotten Friday Flick – “Extreme Prejudice” (In Memory of Powers Boothe)

With the passing of the Powers Boothe this week a tribute to the iconic actor for any fan of great film is a movie must.  But since his best work in my opinion has already been given the past picture royal treatment via former movie home (see the Forgotten Friday Flick review of John Boorman’s The Emerald Forest at Starpulse.com HERE!) time for a secondary selection to give the late great actor his due – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  This week were going back to 1987 for a second cinematic collaboration between legendary director Walter Hill and Boothe (the first being the harrowing thriller Southern Comfort!) involving a Texas Ranger who finds himself face-to-face with a bad guy involved in serious drug trafficking – who is also a childhood friend.  Double crosses, harrowing heists, old west showdowns and thick levels of tough guy testosterone riddle a flick with…Extreme Prejudice!

Jack Benteen is an unwavering Texas Ranger unafraid to do what needs to be done.  He’s rough, tough, serious and has the focus of a hawk.  But he’s also caught in a turbulent triangle between a former high school buddy turned drug trafficker Cash Bailey whom he is faced with taking down and his own emotional girlfriend Sarita who was the former flame of Bailey.  Plus unbeknownst to Jack there’s a secret government gang called the Zombie Unit that has come into town to also curb the drug dealings of Bailey covertly.  Will justice be served and if so by whom?

There’s a lot of plot, characters and twists and turns within Extreme Prejudice (this one definitely has the dark edge of screenwriter John Milius!), but thankfully under the watchful eye of the skilled Walter Hill it never weighs down the films sensational surface stuff.  Meaning amidst the complex story staging, Hill still does what he does best and puts style, action and movie mood front and center.  It almost feels at times like two different films – one about the truth and consequences of covert military missions and the other a classic western gunslinger confrontation between good and evil.  But while both have their own charms and tone, their meshing together here never feels forced – again a testament to the hubris of Hill.  One minute it’s a skilled staging of a government operation masked as a robbery, the next it’s a guns blazing mano-a-mano showdown after ten paces, but all under Hill feel and look exceptionally authentic.

As always casting for such a flick is key and Hill sets his stage with the cream of crop.  As his solid hard man lead, Nick Nolte once again delivers an unforgettable performance as a local lawman who’s a stickler for the rules.  As his foe and former friend, the great Powers Boothe, offsets Nolte’s no-nonsense work nicely, playing an easy-going sleaziod with a distinctive dark side.  (White suit equals evil people!)  The film is then filled out with fantastic character actors like Rip Torn as Nolte’s surly boss, Maria Conchita Alonso as the spirited female caught between two men, Michael Ironside as a charismatic Army Major and Clancy “The Kurgen” Brown, William Forsythe (dude never met a character he couldn’t make more wacky!) and even Revenge of the Nerds alum Larry B. Scott (playing a tech geek!) as Ironside’s quirky military crew – all give Extreme Prejudice a bold acting boost.

Even though Boothe had a smaller but significant role in Extreme Prejudice, his work playing various nefarious bad movie dudes that walk the line was large and timeless.  The curt Col. via Red Dawn, Brandon Lee’s dedicated but flawed counterpart in Rapid Fire, the surly Curly Bill Brocius in Tombstone, the questionable FBI guy in Bill Paxton’s Frailty and the sinful Senator Roark in Robert Rodriquez’s Sin City were just a few of the flawed folks Boothe helped bring to life over a span of one long and notable career.  (Not to mention the haunted father in the previously mentioned The Emerald Forest!)  But his early turn in Extreme Prejudice started the sympathetic slimeball character ball rolling and it’s not hard to see why.  Good guys certainly take center stage, but a really ruckus memorable man we love to hate always steals the cinematic thunder.  RIP Powers Boothe.


I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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