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Defiance


There goes the neighborhood, at a snail’s pace

Rod Lott June 3rd, 2011

Perhaps AIP’s answer to “Death Wish,” “Walking Tall” and “The Warriors,” 1980’s “Defiance” feels late to the vigilante party.

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And even if it weren’t, the film lacks the spine-tingling spirit of those three grittier, dirtier, now-iconic efforts.

One-time matinee idol Jan-Michael Vincent (“The Mechanic”) is Tommy, a tough, unemployed man trying to learn Spanish in order to get a job on a ship when he befriends a neighbor who pours water on his head (Theresa Saldana), befriends the crusty store owner on the corner (Art Carney, perpetually frowning) and befriends the local gang of thugs.

Scratch that: He runs afoul of the local gang of thugs. Just seeing if you were paying attention, because it’s difficult to give director John Flynn’s crime drama your full helping of such.

The bad guys, some of whom look like pimps, play to the stereotypes of the era. They do everything from stomp a rooftop garden (oh, no, you di’n’t!) to kill a guy, so Tommy starts swinging back, cleaning up and taking names. I defy you to be able to sit through the rather perfunctory proceedings, which take their sweet time to get to any action of note. Plus, with white-break rock songs so horrible — you know the kind: deep-voiced, Michael McDonald-esque tracks that verge on self-parody — it almost dares you to hit eject. —Rod Lott


 
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