The Mighty Quinn (1989) – Review

1 Star

Denzel Washington’s appealing performance and loads of reggae music are the only reasons to view this utterly confused romantic,light-hearted murder mystery set on an unspecified tropical island. Police chief Xavier Quinn (Washington) is on the case, when his best friend is the prime suspect in the death of a wealthy businessman with ties to the United States Treasury department. Soon the murder leads to various personal and political conflicts, leaving Quinn out on a limb trying to clear his friend’s name while trying to solve the case and bring the murder to justice.

The lackadaisical plotting and uninspired dialogue, made harder to interpret due to some wavering accents quickly sink this breezy oddity. In essence The Mighty Quinn is a musical, made even odder since the source material is a 1982 novel that presumably had no musical cues. So it is the interpretation of writer Hampton Fancher and director Carl Schenkel to infuse this multi-genre mishmash with a spattering of local spice and reggae fever. Admittedly for short passages this works, but when the mechanics of the plot kick in the melodrama rockets sky-high and characters motivations become murky and their actions are downright baffling.

Surprisingly The Mighty Quinn has an unusually positive score on aggregated critic sites like Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. I guess 1989 was a pretty lousy year for cinema in the eyes of the critical masses to award this film such an esteemed status. Proving himself a one-off talent, Carl Schenkel would later helm the atrocious Casper Van Dien led reincarnation of Tarzan that sank all careers involved. If you are a Denzel Washington completist than this should be viewed, all other should just watch Virtuosity…again.

Director: Carl Schenkel
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend, Mimi Rogers

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