As derivative sex-and-violence direct-to-video B-movies go, WRITE TO KILL, which bears a faint resemblence to the superior MARATHON MAN, is a slightly better than run-of-the-mill crime thriller, due mainly to a solidly above-average cast.
Clark Sanford (Scott Valentine) is a college student and aspiring mystery novelist whose work falls short because his killers lack credibility. His brother, Jamie (Chris Mulkey), is abruptly released from prison two years early from his sentence for money laundering. He's cut a secret deal with
US Treasury agent Chambliss (Andreas Katsulas) to help bring down top money launderer Gaston (Ray Wise). However, Gaston uncovers the ruse and shoots Jamie, who gets away only to die on Clark's doorstep with one of Gaston's phony bills clutched in his hand. After Jamie's pal, homicide detective
Dean Sutton (G.W. Bailey), tells Clark nothing can be done about his brother's murder, Clark decides to take matters into his own hands.
Buying a gun and sneaking into Gaston's house late at night to kill him, Clark finds that someone else has beat him to it. Conveniently dropping his gun and one of his latex gloves at the scene, Clark escapes only to be framed by the real murderer. He goes on the lam with sexy, madcap heiress
Belle (Joan Severance), who nearly runs him over while he's escaping from Gaston's house. A runaway from her influential father, Belle survives by breaking into rich people's houses and using their cars while they are on vacation. Together they attack Gaston's operation to ferret out Jamie's real
killer from an array of suspects led by Sutton and Chambliss.
WRITE TO KILL is utter nonsense from start to finish, but it's oddly engaging nonetheless. The resemblances to MARATHON MAN come mainly from its premise. In MARATHON, a reclusive Jewish academic, played by Dustin Hoffman, was forced into action when his secret-agent brother (Roy Scheider) was
murdered by Nazi war-criminal Laurence "Is it Safe?" Olivier. Here the similar premise functions as little more than a gimmick to bring Valentine, who looks altogether too hunky to be believable as someone who spends all his free hours slaving over a hot word processor, into the plot. Only
slightly less believable is knockout ex-supermodel and scene-stealing "Wiseguy" TV villainess Severance having to break into houses, steal cars and shoplift to survive on the streets.
However, director Ruben Preuss doesn't lean too heavily on Miguel Tejanda-Flores's contrived, fanciful script; with the cast he's assembled, fortunately, he doesn't have to. Though Valentine (MY DEMON LOVER and TV's "Family Ties") isn't particularly outstanding as the hero, the support is
sterling. Severance (WORTH WINNING, BIRD ON A WIRE) easily steals the movie, playing a character clearly written for someone half her age, with unflagging charm and tongue-in-cheek humor that survives even the solemnly silly soft-porn sex scene with the hero that is far and away the most
overworked cliche of made-for-video movies.
Though removed from the action too early, "Twin Peaks" veterans Mulkey and Wise are also a strong duo. He may come into the action too late, but Katsulas has some vivid moments as the menacing Chambliss, with Bailey rounding out the cast well as the devious Sutton. Also seen too briefly, France
Nuyen has a good scene as a duplicitous antiques dealer.
Obviously in no danger of erasing MARATHON MAN from the cinematic landscape, WRITE TO KILL still manages to be a bright, pleasant diversion on its own terms. (Violence, profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: As derivative sex-and-violence direct-to-video B-movies go, WRITE TO KILL, which bears a faint resemblence to the superior MARATHON MAN, is a slightly better than run-of-the-mill crime thriller, due mainly to a solidly above-average cast. Clark Sanford (… (more)