Picks and Pans Review: Nomads

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

A gripping, if frenetic, thriller, this is the first starring role for Pierce (Remington Steele) Brosnan on the big screen and a debut for writer-director John McTiernan. In a part far removed from that of his TV good guy, Brosnan plays a French anthropologist obsessed with a band of wandering, leather-clad street punks. They have staked out his Los Angeles home to terrorize him and his wife, played with bewildered energy by Anna-Maria (Smash Palace) Montecelli. Brosnan comes to realize that these nomads, led by rock star Adam Ant, resemble spirits in human form from an Eskimo myth. When, on his deathbed, a half-crazed Brosnan relates his story to doctor Lesley-Anne (TV's North and South) Down, a kind of mind transfer takes place, making her the nomads' next target. This potentially thin premise is saved by some imaginative filmmaking. No dice 'em, slice 'em Nightmare on Elm Street stuff here—director McTiernan obviously knows better. The violence is effectively implied rather than depicted. McTiernan builds tension by combining nightmarishly intriguing visuals with a pulsating Bill Conti score to create a frightening stream of consciousness, as Down relives Brosnan's memories and ultimately confronts the nomads. Both Brosnan and Down give marvelously controlled performances that lure the audience into a tightrope walk between reality and illusion, calm and frenzy, until we feel as emotionally drained as they. (R)

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