Picks and Pans Review: Eye for An Eye
As he proved in 1976's Marathon Man and 1990's Pacific Heights, director John Schlesinger knows how to milk a situation to get all the tension out of it. In this take on the 1974 Charles Bronson vehicle Death Wish, the situation in question is the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl by a feckless grocery delivery boy, played by Sutherland. Unfortunately, Schlesinger just doesn't know when to stop. It's not enough for him to show how vile Sutherland is by having him rape and murder, we also have to see him abusing stray dogs, spitting on the sidewalk, even eating ice cream straight out of the carton.
Field and Harris are the suburban parents of the young victim. But the crime isn't really what the movie is about. The plot ignites when Sutherland escapes prosecution on a technicality and Field becomes obsessed with avenging the crime herself. She takes a martial arts course, buys a gun and sets out to hunt him down.
Despite all Schlesinger's best—and worst—efforts, the pudgy, mumbly Sutherland is not convincing for one second. He is outacted not only by the reliably subtle Harris and Mantegna—who plays the Field-badgered cop—but by Alexandra Kyle, who plays the victim's 5-year-old sister with great poise and restrained cuteness.
As for Field, that most sympathetic of actresses makes her pain and frustration palpable, as always. She's no Charles Bronson, but then Bronson would have made a weak flying nun. (R)