After his very impressive killing spree in New York, serial vigilante Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) has retired from the business and is working as an architect in Los Angeles again. He has already acquired a new family in form of girlfriend and journalist Karen Sheldon (Kay Lenz) and her daughter Erica (Dana Barron). But don’t worry, Kersey will soon enough find a reason to murder again, for Erica dies of a cocaine overdose. After Kersey kills the dealer responsible, he is contacted by a mysterious millionaire (John P. Ryan) who convinces him to think bigger and stop the drug problem once and for all. To that goal he provides Kersey with arms and information about the two major LA drug operations.
Kersey’s soon in his serial killing groove again, despite the usual
incompetent (George Dickerson) and corrupt (Soon-Tek Oh) cops on his trail. He
even has a plan he must have read in a Punisher comic: provoke the two drug
groups into a gang war, because that sort of thing has never cost innocent
After the sheer insanity of Death Wish 3, J. Lee Thompson’s The
Crackdown is a bit of a let-down in its insistence on being only general
action movie dumb instead of completely out of its mind, and of being mildly
tasteless instead of a Michael Winner film. There’s just no way a competent
little action film without all too much that’s memorable can look
exciting compared to the force of nature that came before.
Of course, I don’t really see how the sequel ever could have topped what was
going on in part 3, particularly that film’s final half hour. This goes even
more so with someone like Thompson in the director’s chair who seems somewhat
lost in the kind of explosion fest this tries to be, coming more from a
classical thriller background as he does, and sometimes looking as if he
struggles to get quite as unsubtle as the material needs him to be.
Consequently, the best directed scenes here aren’t the large shoot-outs or the
roller rink massacre in the end, but the smaller skirmishes when Bronson fights
only a handful of guys, because then the rules of the thriller apply instead of
those of the 80s action film, Cannon style.
The Crackdown is still decent entertainment, mind you, for while
Thompson isn’t putting his best foot forward, there’s enough basic competence
here to keep the film moving, and such a mass of explosions, dead bodies and
general carnage (if you just pretend you haven’t seen the true meaning of these
words in Death Wish 3), the worst thing I have to say about it is that
it doesn’t feature particularly memorable explosions or carnage.