July 21st, 2008

MESSENGER OF DEATH (1988) **

Director J. Lee Thompson and star Charles Bronson teamed up for the EIGHTH time in this thoroughly ho-hum and excruciatingly routine thriller.  Chuck plays a newspaper man investigating the slaughter of a Mormon family and quickly finds himself caught in the middle of two warring Mormon clans (imagine Bible thumping versions of the Hatfields and the McCoys). 

 

Messenger of Death contains none of the over the top violence that made Big Chuck’s films of the 80’s so memorable.  The murder of the Mormon family that opens the picture is strong and there is a decent Chuck vs. three semis chase scene, but other than that, the film is a complete bore.  There’s also a needless whodunit subplot about a mysterious water company owner trying to run the family off their mineral rich land that eats up a lot of screen time too.  (Which makes it the Chinatown of Charles Bronson flicks, except that it’s not very good.) 

 

Even though the film is a total humdrum affair, Chuck still gives it his all and delivers another top notch performance.  The supporting cast which includes Trish (The Hearse) Van Devere, Laurence (Star Trek V) Luckinbill, Daniel (Murder at 1600) Benzali and Charles (Silent Night, Deadly Night) Dierkop are all quite good.  It’s just too bad this flick had to be so darn tame.  (With a few quick trims it would be perfect Hallmark Hall of Fame fodder.) 

 

Thompson and Bronson re-teamed for their final film, Kinjite:  Forbidden Subjects, the next year.