Night Moves Reviews
Another review by an imdb user who goes by the name of Keith. Best review imo.
Nick (Kenneth Mars) is a collector of pre-Columbian artifacts, illegal to obtain. He buys these items from stunt director Joey Ziegler (Edward Binns) who has a neat operation going on using stuntmen to get them from Yucatan. Marv Ellman (Anthony Costello) flies them into the US and drops them off in Florida to be picked up by Tom Iverson and Paula.
All is fine until Tom's stepdaughter Dilly (Melanie Griffith) leaves her mother, Arleen (Janet Ward), to go live with him. This upsets Nick as a horny teenager might ruin the deal they have going on. Therefore, he makes Arleen hire Harry Moseby to fetch her back. Arleen needs to have Dilly back to get her monthly alimony.
Harry finds Dilly in Florida in no time. Things go wrong when Marv has an accident and dies while transporting an artifact. During a dive, Dilly finds the plane and recognizes Marv. Tom (John Crawford) and Paula (Jennifer Warren) tell Harry they'll call the coast guard, but don't for obvious reasons. Harry takes Dilly back to LA.
Dilly tells her friends Quentin (James Woods) and Joey that the corpse she saw during the dive was Marv's. She's a dangerous witness to Joey, who gets her killed during a stunt.
Quentin smells something fishy and goes to Florida to investigate. Tom kills him.
Harry goes to Florida to investigate too, beats Tom senseless and discovers half this plot from Paula. He makes Paula take him out on a boat ride to the submerged plane. While Paula is diving to retrieve the artifact, Joey shows up flying a plane and kills Paula, then tries to kill the boat owner, Tom. It got too dangerous for Joey - he wants to get rid of all his team. He doesn't know it's Harry on the boat instead of Tom. As his plane is sinking he kind of apologizes to Harry. Then again, since Joey killed Dilly, I don't think he'd have any problems offing Harry too.
Harry is left alone, on a boat that's going round in circles and is angry with himself for not seeing this plot sooner. As Harry had said about that chess player, "He didn't see it. He played something else and he lost. He must have regretted it every day of his life. I know I would have." If he is rescued, he'll regret this case for the rest of his life...
Sometimes you see these neglected gems and it's completely baffling how they failed to find an audience at the time, but with Night Moves I can sort of understand how it slipped through the net. And it's not surprising that the film's critical stock began to rise with the advent of home video, when it became possible to re-examine atypically rich examples of cinema to ones heart's content. In my experience, if there's one thing an audience cannot stand it's a movie that makes them feel stupid, and, simply put - and I don't mean this as a criticism, as the effect is certainly intentional - Night Moves is probably the most forbiddingly opaque and ambiguous thriller of the 1970s.
Honestly, if you're one of those people who hates loose ends and likes a nice pat denouement, do yourself a favour and stay well clear of this because it will drive you up the wall! The first time you watch it, it's largely incoherent; the characters and their respective motivations emerge more clearly with each subsequent viewing, but there's still no getting away from the fact that no matter how many times you watch it, the movie remains a riddle without a solution, or rather a riddle with any number of different solutions.
R.I.P. Bruce Surtees, director of photography, 1937-2012
Arthur Penn's Night Moves is good example of noir, but it isn't a fantastic film. Why? The story is intriguing enough and it certainly holds many of the traits found in film noir, but it just doesn't have the "oomph" that it needs. You understand what I mean? Night Moves is a good film, but it needs to be a great film. With a story like this, it has to be.
I don't blame the cast or really even the direction. In fact, I'm not sure who to blame. Just know that the blame goes to someone, even if that someone doesn't have a face. This film is just a slight tick above average, when it should be powerful. It's a film about morals, family morals. The message is there, black and white. But Night Moves just doesn't have the... Well, I'm done trying to explain.
Gene Hackman continues to impress me with these younger roles. He is a fine actor and I see that now. His work nowadays doesn't really even being to compare with his 70's and 80's filmography. Here in Night Moves, his performance is one of the most attractive things. It's one of the best things that this film has to offer.
Just don't go into Night Moves with high expectations, like the critics will get you to believe with their 4/4 star ratings. This is not a fabulous picture. This is not even a great noir. It's a good noir, and watch it because of that. There's no real mystery to look for.
It's just all in the message. And that's what counts.