- Directed by Walter Hill
- April 24, 1987
A Texas Ranger faces off against a ruthless drug kingpin who was once his friend.
Extreme Prejudice is an extremely violent neo-Western thriller with lots of bullets and blood squibs. With a screenplay by Harry Kleiner and Deric Washburn (the latter collaborated with Michael Cimino on Silent Running and The Deer Hunter) and a story from John Milius (Conan the Barbarian) and Fred Rexer we have a film with strong characters facing off against one another in a confrontation that can only end in one way.
While good, the plot is a bit convoluted. Let’s start. First off there is the drug dealer named Cash (Powers Boothe) and Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (Nick Nolte) who were childhood friends but are now on opposing sides of the law. Pretty standard Western stuff. Then there is the additional plot element of a zombie unit-a secret black ops military squad planning to rob a local bank of incriminating papers but are using a general bank robbery as a way to cover their tracks. All these things collide together in one bloody gun blazing spectacle.
Despite all these random elements it’s not too bad. Nick Nolte shines is the hardened and stoic ranger. He is as an immovable force as any Western hero. He keeps order and law in his own way. Nolte was a pretty good screen tough guy but at some point he started to always look like the town drunk. He lost something along the way but here he is in fine form not only in his acting tough but overall performance. He’s tough and stern but a man with a code.
Cash is the good kid gone bad and finds himself at odds with his old friend and perhaps a bit confused why things are the way they are. Cash has descended into a self-serving man. He has no code other than what serves himself. These are two philosophically opposed forces that were at one point aligned. You can feel that what’s going on between Cash and Jack is personal and building to something significant.
And what’s a Western with two implacable forces that will eventually face off without a love interest torn between them? Here that is Sarita Cisneros and she is played by Maria Conchita Alonso. She’s in love with both men but truthfully only Jack really loves her while Cash seeks to possess her. Very different things.
The Zombie Unit (not made up of actual zombies though that would be cool) is made up of several familiar faces. We have Michael Ironside as their leader Major Paul Hackett, Clancy Brown is Master Sergeant Larry McRose, William Forsythe is Sergeant 1st Class Buckman Atwater, and Larry B. Scott (Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds) is Sergeant 1st Class Charles Biddle. And let’s not forget The Karate Kid as well.
Supporting cast includes Rip Torn as Sheriff Hank Pearson, Marco Rodríguez as Deputy Emil Cortez, Tommy “Tiny” Lister as Monday, and Mickey Jones as Chubb Luke. All familiar faces of a certain era. Interestingly Mickey Jones was in V: The Final Battle and V the Series with Ironside.
The characters most importantly are distinct from one another. Nobody’s really interchangeable and despite feeling like an add on, the government plot which propels the climax of the film comes office possible. You could almost believe that something like a secret unit of people declared deceased exists.
One thing you will notice is that it is ridiculously hot in this movie. As much sweat as all these characters give off one would think they would die of dehydration or just heat exhaustion before the credits roll. The area of Texas this is set in must smell like a high school locker room on a good day. There are better ways to drive home how hot it is in a film.
The finale is blood soaked and bullet heavy. The 80s were known for violent excess and this is no different. The number of victims here was usually reserved for one musclebound dude but here it is spread out among all the characters that make it to the sequence. There is something visceral about watching this much practical effects deployed.
Extreme Prejudice is a good modern Western. It’s not perfect but it is entertaining. However this will definitely appeal more to 80s action fans than it will to fans of Westerns or just general moviegoers. Though I enjoyed it I will give this an if you want.