3 StarsBurt Reynolds is Stick in the film of the same name based on the novel by famed crime writer Elmore Leonard. The source material has been jettisoned to make way for a more standardized 1980’s action film, but Reynold’s fans will be wildly entertained throughout. Returning to the director’s chair for the first time since the well received Sharky’s Machine, Mr. Reynolds has fashioned himself a fine star vehicle, even if lapses in momentum and logic are evidence of post-production tampering.
Ernest ‘Stick’ Stickley is a recently paroled ex-con, we meet him as he rides the railways into Miami. Stick looks like a hobo in the opening scenes, making his debonair appearance later among the nuevo-rich a bit jarring. Back on the city streets and desperately trying to stay clean, Stick finds himself quickly mixed up with an elite criminal circle whose members include a black magic obsessed drug kingpin, a frightening looking hitman, a shady film producer, and a stock market whiz with an attractive financial advisor.
Plot contrivances and coincidence play huge roles in the story structure of this ungainly tale. The details on the cons and vendettas start vague and grow incomprehensible by the film’s shoot-up climax that seems to have been inspired in part by Scarface. Reynold’s charisma and the sun-drenched Florida setting ease the rough edges a bit, but it is obvious the inception of the original inspiration has been reshaped for a more digestible experience.
Director: Burt Reynolds
Stars: Burt Reynolds, George Segal, Charles Durning