Forget What’s Legal… Do What’s Right…
Starring: Charles Bronson, Lisa Eilbacher, Andrew Stevens, Gene Davis, Geoffrey Lewis, Robert Lyons, Wilford Brimley
Director: J. Lee Thompson
1983 | 103 Minutes | Rated R
“The way the law protects those maggots out there you’d think they were an endangered species.” – Lt. Kessler
I’m sure, even in 1983, the hope of Charles Bronson kickin’ ass was the reason people were watching 10 to Midnight. It’s the only reason I watched so I’m not going to waste anybody’s time by pretending otherwise. The remainder of the review will be written with this in mind…
Veteran LAPD detective, Leo Kessler (Charles Bronson), is a cop first and a father second. But when a serial killer targets his daughter, Kessler will stop at nothing to put the killer behind bars… or in the ground.
Bronson plays his usual methodical self, a far cry from the usual action star. He was a perfect fit for the role of Leo Kesslar. He had played this role before and would play it again. “I’m a mean, selfish son of a bitch but I want a killer and what I want comes first.”
Gene Davis is the ultimate creep of a serial killer. He strips to the nude and kills with a knife. Plus he knows karate! Davis really nails the creep vibe required for the role. Kudos, I guess.
The thing that bugs me most about 10 to Midnight was that it didn’t seem to know that it had arrived in the 80s. This was the decade of some of the absolute greatest action movies. When you put Charles Bronson on the marquee the people expect kick ass action and despite the awesome 80s action movie music, 10 to Midnight is really more of a thriller than a true action movie. There are some exciting scenes but there just simply isn’t enough action here to call it anything more than that.
10 to Midnight doesn’t set out to be an action movie but it probably should have. It barely works as the thriller it DID set out to be. The suspense just isn’t there and the story just drags along. And while Gene Davis pulls off the creepy killer the whole movie still comes across as silly rather than frightening or… thrilling.
It may be unfair to judge a movie based on what I thought it should have been but in this case 10 to Midnight just didn’t cut it as it is. I’m not sure it would have worked with more action but, at the very least, it would have been more entertaining.