by Roderick Thorp ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 24, 1979
Joe Leland is back--he's The Detective who conducted that long psychosexual investigation back in 1966 (Frank Sinatra in the movie). But this time it's Joe vs. Terrorists, in a tight, all-action melodrama that eventually loses points for excess gore, corn, and misanthropy. It all begins when dour Joe jets to L.A. to be with his high-power corporate daughter Steffie on Christmas Eve--she's celebrating a big deal at a party in the Klaxon Oil skyscraper. But moments after Joe arrives and drifts away to a private office on another floor, a dozen terrorists take the partygoers hostage. Joe recognizes the voice of German terror-king Tony Gruber and knows from his anti-terrorist experience what he's up against, so--amid some well-integrated flashbacks--he begins analyzing the building, figuring out how to survive, get help, and save the hostages. Soon the terrorists know he's there, and a tense cat-and-mouse is under way, with Joe crawling through air-conditioning ducts, scampering from elevator to elevator, limping and bleeding badly, eliminating one terrorist after another with gun and ax, tossing bodies off the roof (to attract help), capturing guns, radio, explosives, and candy bars. And, then, with the radio, he's in contact with the image-conscious cops and the media outside--but they refuse to play it Joe's way, so on goes his one-man kill-a-thon: bombing an elevator shaft, winning hand-to-hand combat with a woman terrorist, escaping a rooftop ambush by swinging over the edge holding a canvas firehose, and on to the final bloody showdown--as Gruber grabs unlikable Steffie (a cocaine-sniffer and dictatorship-supporter). Whenever there's talk here, it tends to be corny--especially all the brave banter over the radio. And after a while, Joe's spreading bloodthirstiness and misanthropy pall. But ignore the crude theme-work and the body-count excess, and you can suffer along with a grueling, old-fashioned kill-or-be-killed ordeal that explores every conceivable hi-rise violence variation with precision. grit, and fury.
Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1979
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1979
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