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Target

(Arthur Penn, USA, 1985)


 


Director Arthur Penn was the seeming king of the New Hollywood in the progressive era of films such as Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Little Big Man (1970).

But both Night Moves (1975) and Four Friends (aka Georgia, 1981) seemed to herald a sadder, lonelier place for Penn's vision – and the tone came to be prophetic.

By the mid '80s, when the American cinema had itself moved into a rather more conservative phase, Penn found himself desperate to direct virtually anything.

He accepted Target to prove he could make a kinetic action film better than "those damn whippersnappers" depriving him of a living (in cinema, that is – his theatre work continued strongly).

An absorbing, expertly constructed tall-tale of espionage and kidnapping in Paris, it also incorporates an amusing drama of familial tension between Gene Hackman and Matt Dillon – even if (as Penn admits) the relationship scarcely gets beyond the level of Dillon whining, "Gee Dad, you're not the guy I thought you were!"

© Adrian Martin January 1993


Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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