Firepower (1979)

FirepowerDirector: Michael Winner
Starring: James Coburn | Sophia Loren | O.J. Simpson | Eli Wallach | Vincent Gardenia | Anthony Franciosa | Billy Barty | Victor Mature | Jake LaMotta
Writers: Gerald Wilson | Bill Kirby | Michael Winner
Music: Gato Barbieri

Firepower is a late `70’s action film directed by Michael Winner, who is better known for the first three Death Wish movies, with Charles Bronson. While Bronson isn’t on hand here, two other Magnificent Seven alumni are present, James Coburn and Eli Wallach – which has nothing to do with this review really – just thought I’d mention it.

Just a quick note, the MRA Entertainment Australia DVD I watched appears to be cut. I cannot be sure, but there are some abrupt jumps in the more violent action scenes – particularly one with a machete, which I recall seeing some stills from many years ago. I may be wrong, but having watched director, Winner’s Death Wish films more times than I care to admit, I don’t believe he’s the type to shrink away from on-screen violence.

The movie starts with the death of Dr. Ivo Tasca. Tasca’s research had discovered that pain killing drugs manufactured by Stegner Corp. were contaminated and were now causing cancer. Tasca was about to turn his information over to the authorities.

Firepower 2After the funeral, Tasca’s window, Adele (Sophia Loren) hands over her late husband’s research to Frank Hull (Vincent Gardenia), who works for the Department of Justice. She hopes they’ll be able to prosecute, Karl Stegner, the head of Stegner Corp. Hull explains Stegner is the third richest man in the world, and as such, is virtually untouchable. Furthermore, he is hiding out in Antigua, where they can’t extradite him. Adele suggests acquiring a mercenary to go to the Caribbean and bring him back for prosecution. The man she suggests is Jerry Fanon (James Coburn).

A deal is brokered and Fanon heads to Antigua, accompanied by a thief named Catlett (O.J. Simpson), to track down and capture Karl Stegner by fair means or foul. The story cranks into gear and mayhem ensues.

The movie is awfully contrived, and outlining all the plot threads and entwined character relationships here would require more words than I am willing to waste on what is essentially a B-Grade actioner, that is only buoyed by its cast. There are multiple twists and turns, with characters appearing to change allegiance at the drop of a hat. And I’m guessing most astute viewers will guess the final big twist well in advance.

But in its favor, Firepower has that certain `70’s vibe I love, including a great score by Gato Barbieri, and it’s not the worst way to wile away 100 minutes of your life.

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