Thursday, 8 December 2016

Cohen And Tate

Cast: Roy Scheider, Adam Baldwin, Harley Cross, Cooper Huckabee, and Suzanne Savoy

Director: Eric Red

86 minutes (15) 1988
Widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Arrow blu-ray region B

Rating: 7/10
Review by Christopher Geary

“This job is bad.”

Cool but not heartless Cohen (Roy Scheider), a 30 year veteran of the murder business is reluctantly teamed-up with sulky novice, Tate (Adam Baldwin), a gum-chewing hot-head for 350 miles worth of road movie, en route to a meeting with mobsters in Houston. They have kidnapped a young boy, Travis (Harley Cross, who later appeared in The Believers, The Boy Who Cried Bitch, and Perdita Durango), from a rural safe house guarded by FBI agents.

Cohen And Tate is a cult low-budget crime thriller that quickly becomes a slow-burning character study of the differences between a world-weary mercenary and a death-hungry psychopath. Like director Eric Red’s earlier screenplay for Robert Harmon’s classic movie The Hitcher (1986), and following Stephen Frears’ under-valued The Hit (1984), this is a stylish melodrama in which every cigarette smoked seems like it might be a lit fuse-wire, primed for an explosive climax.

The cunning kid provokes antagonism shared by his captors into a violent confrontation, as they drive through a world of nocturnal indifference, on interstate highways and back roads towards a bloody hell, just as dawn and the simmering tension breaks. There are a number of witty plot twists, all evenly matched by the movie’s oppressive and ultimately tragic intensity.

The movie looks marvellous in this hi-def transfer, and the soundtrack crackles with eerie moments. As another vague adaptation of O. Henry’s celebrated short story, The Ransom Of Red Chief (1907), Cohen And Tate applies its ironic tone with exquisite care, taking no chances that might undermine the grim and gritty aspects of an underworld kidnap case. It is a newly minted cinematic version of the familiar tale, and benefits from its decidedly formal composition of many shots and scenes.    

“How about that?”

Disc extras:
An audio commentary by writer-director Eric Red
A Look Back at Cohen & Tate, a retrospective documentary featuring Eric Red, cinematographer Victor J. Kemper, editor Edward Abroms, and co-stars Kenneth McCabe and Harley Cross
Red’s original storyboards for the farmhouse shoot-out
Original uncut versions of the farmhouse and oilfield shoot-outs
Original theatrical trailer
Extensive stills gallery

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