This atmospheric but often dank film noir is filled with philosophical banter about moral codes. It is this talk, more often than not, that chokes the narrative and blunts the impact of the film's life-and-death maneuvering through an American-Canadian underworld landscape.
In a somnolent American Southern town, rising gangland czar Clifton Santier (Peter Greene) wipes out Yank rival Jack (Alan Fawcett) and his entourage before a criminal meeting even begins. Unfortunately for Santier, the town's alcoholic lawman, Pershing Quinn (Michael Pare), recognizes Santier as
his missing-in-action military buddy, Bosco, who turned renegade during a peacekeeping mission in Africa years ago.
But the irredeemably evil Santier/Bosco not only gets away, but quickly rubs out his crime mentor back in Montreal, leaving the burned-out Quinn to gather clues from the scene of the massacre, sober up, and follow his former compatriot to Canada. Quinn's first move is to schedule a rendezvous with
his pilot pal, Boot (Robert Morelli), so they can transport Santier back to the US. Next, he interrogates Santier's ex-girlfriend, Seira (Macha Grenon), at Santier's strip club. Rescuing Seira from a Santier-ordered hit to silence her, Quinn gains the enmity of Santier's right-hand man, Arnold
(Michel Perron), by killing the thug's dim-witted brother, Lester (Ian MacDonald).
After several of Santier's assaults fail to dampen Quinn's resolve to arrest him, the sworn enemies meet at the site of the love nest Santier once shared with Seira. Finally outwitting and cuffing the elusive Santier, Quinn navigates his prisoner and Seira past a gauntlet of paid-off police
positioned along the route to Boot's waiting plane. But ambitious Arnold, eager to gain control of Santier's crime empire, corners corners Quinn's party in the countryside. Boot crashes his plane into Arnold's getaway helicopter so that Arnold can't pursue Quinn and Seira. In the ensuing fracas,
Quinn is wounded and Santier guns down Arnold in an old, abandoned church where Quinn, Seira, and Santier are holed up. Santier escapes Quinn yet again, only to be killed by upright law enforcement officials alerted by the church bells.
Despite its pretentious overtones, SWORN ENEMIES manages to recharge its batteries often enough to engross. The biggest snag for crime film buffs is that the script reaches its denouement after Quinn nabs Santier/Bosco. Yet, this anticlimactic adventure can't let go of the motif of Quinn saving
his own soul through Santier's downfall.
Despite its tangled narrative, the film is, however, a cinematographer's field day; the camerawork mesmerizes with shots of seductive neon nightspots and deceptively bucolic fields where sunshine blinds us to peril. In one superbly photographed sequence (reminiscent of a Coen Bros. film), gunmen
shoot at a floor into carefully marked circles that represent the positions of card-playing crooks seated at a table on the floor directly below. Thanks to these contempo-noir visual touches, SWORN ENEMIES sustains audience interest even when it wears out its welcome with verbal overstatement of
its theme. (Graphic violence, substance abuse, nudity, profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: This atmospheric but often dank film noir is filled with philosophical banter about moral codes. It is this talk, more often than not, that chokes the narrative and blunts the impact of the film's life-and-death maneuvering through an American-Canadian und… (more)