Review: Next of Kin

Patrick Swayze (with truly ridiculous hair) is a hillbilly turned Chicago cop who takes on mobsters Andreas Katsulas (typecast, but fine) and his vicious son Adam Baldwin after they have his naive brother Bill Paxton (also having moved to the Big Smoke) killed. Liam Neeson is Swayze’s other brother Briar, defiantly proud of being a toothless hick, who scoffs at Swayze’s by-the-book methods of law and order. Helen Hunt plays Swayze’s sweet wife, and inexplicably a young Ben Stiller turns up as Katsulas’ other son, a brown-nosing yuppie. Ted Levine plays a fellow hick, and Michael J. Pollard plays...erm...Michael J. Pollard as a hotel manager (The guy gives the same performance in everything, and he’s good at it I guess).

High-concept 1989 John Irvin (The solid war flick “The Dogs of War”, but after this and the awful Arnie flick “Raw Deal”, proved that action wasn’t his thing) cop-actioner sounds like it can’t miss, especially with that cast but it’s pretty stupid, dull and unconvincing stuff, full of clich├ęs and offensive stereotypes. Swayze isn’t bad in the lead, nor are Baldwin and (more briefly) Paxton, but future stars Neeson (woefully unconvincing accent, Liam) and Hunt aren’t at their best here. There are moments, though; A barroom brawl involving the estranged brothers springs to mind, and although he’s stuck in a stereotype (I’m surprised he’s not eating pasta at every turn) Andreas Katsulas manages a bit of gravitas every now and then.

This isn’t the schlocky fun it could’ve been (like “Road House” or especially “Commando”), nor the genuinely good film the cast list might have suggested. Scripted by Michael Jenning and Jeb Stuart, the latter having co-written “Die Hard” with Steven E. De Souza. Maybe De Souza would’ve done something better with the concept (add some intentional humour perhaps, as he did in “Commando”, as opposed to the unintentional guffaws this film inspires frequently), which isn’t all that bad in theory.

Rating: C


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