52 Pick-Up (1986)

52 Pick-Up (1986), directed by John Frankenheimer.

A businessman discovers the price for cheating on his wife: blackmail by a vicious trio. When he decides not to pay the plot goes very dark: threats against his wife and a snuff video showing the girlfriend being sadistically murdered.

He's going to fight back, but how to get a grip on these people?

I saw this once before and wanted to revisit it because of the Elmore Leonard screenplay, based on his novel. It has some recognizable motifs: "Fire in the hole!" and the innocent-acting villain menacing the wife in her home. But his usual wry treatment is crushed beneath persistent grimness and cruelty.

Violence and terror against the women is strong in this one. The killers actually have Leonard's characteristic quirkiness, a combination of clever and dumb wit, but are just too vile for us to care about them. Our hero, getting past that snuff film episode, becomes their associate without too much trouble, meaning we like him less too.

The final scene, although satisfying in terms of revenge, is an improbable gimmick.

Fine cast:

Funny bit: in an impromptu porn film made at a party, we see many of the extras are recognizable porn stars of the period, later quite famous. Probably just another light working day for them, with no actual sex required.

The usual 80s synthesizer score. Golan-Globas and the Canon Group: those were the days!