Features and Columns · Movies

‘Loophole’ Is a Slick and Underseen Heist Flick

By  · Published on January 30th, 2017

Plus four more KL Studio Classics releases to enjoy this month on Blu-ray.

Kino Lorber continues their trend of bringing talent-filled but lesser known films from the past to Blu-ray. We take a look at this month’s releases below including The Internecine Project with James Coburn, Loophole with Albert Finney, Scavenger Hunt with Richard Benjamin, Stryker, and Who? with Elliott Gould.

Loophole (1981)

Stephen Booker (Martin Sheen) is an American architect based in London, but he’s at a loss when his firm lets him go. He has a family to support so when he’s approached with a freelance offer he leaps at the job. Everything seems on the up and up at first, but Mike Daniels (Albert Finney) soon reveals the truth behind the job offer ‐ they need Stephen’s help to rob a bank.

Director John Quested only made two features, and judging by this slick and entertaining film from 1981 ‐ his second and last ‐ that’s a damn shame. There are some fun sequences here as the crime is planned and executed with an engaging sense of suspense. The script by Jonathan Hales (High Road to China, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) affords the main players ample time to build their characters before the danger kicks things into high gear.

Sheen is more subdued than he is in many of his most memorable roles, and it works to create a family man with principles. He makes a great straight-man to the criminal element heading his way. Finney is equally strong here in the far flashier role, and he gets to have fun with it too. The end result is a solid heist movie deserving of far more eyeballs.

Kino’s new Blu-ray features:

The DVD is available from Amazon.

The Internecine Project (1974)

Robert Eliot (James Coburn) has had a successful career as a secret agent, but the time has come to step out of the shadows. He’s offered an important, high-ranking government job as adviser to the president, but before he can take it he needs to clean up a few loose ends ‐ namely a quartet of past associates. He comes up with an ingenious plan to get rid of them all over the course of a single night, but a plan is no guarantee of success.

It’s refreshing when a genre film comes along that gleefully plays with convention like this one does. Coburn’s spy doesn’t behave like the hero, subversive or otherwise, that we’d expect, and instead we get to watch him use his skills in some rather devious ways. The script ‐ by Barry Levinson and Jonathan Lynn ‐ structures the action like puzzle pieces with everything slowly falling into place through to the very end.

Coburn leads, kind of, but much of the film is focused on supporting players like Lee Grant, Harry Andrews, and Keenan Wynn, and the offer a fun mix of the likable and the easily despised. The end result for Ken Hughes’ (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) film is a fun, satisfying thriller that’s both simpler and more interesting than much of what we get these days.

Kino’s new Blu-ray features:

The Internecine Project (1974) [Blu-ray]

Who? (1975)

An American scientist who had been working on a top secret project is gravely injured in a crash and taken into custody by East German officials under the guise of helping him recover. He’s returned months later looking and sounding much different, and that new appearance leaves the US government wondering if he’s been turned into a spy or if he’s even the scientist at all.

What an odd little movie. There are minor action beats here and there, but the majority of Jack Gold’s movie is a slowburn of conversation, suspicion, and intrigue. Mistrust flows from every side as the metallic scientist argues tirelessly as to his innocence and identity, and the film does a good job leaving viewers uncertain as each new piece of information is revealed.

Of course as interesting as all of that is the main reason to watch this underseen ’70s film is Elliott Gould’s laid back performance as the government agent tasked with determining the truth. He very much retains the casual yet stern attitude from 1973's The Long Goodbye, and it affords the film an occasionallycharismatic blend of drama and comedy.

Kino’s new Blu-ray features:

Who? (1975) aka Robo Man [Blu-ray]

Scavenger Hunt (1979)

When a millionaire dies his family and acquaintances are shocked by the details of his will. He’s allotted his entire fortune to the person or team who wins a sloppily designed scavenger hunt. Let the law-breaking and back-stabbing begin!

Midnight Madness is probably the more memorable “scavenger hunt” movie, but it’s hard to argue with this film’s cast which includes Willie Ames, Dirk Benedict, Richard Benjamin, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Stephen Furst, Ruth Gordon, Cloris Leachman, Cleavon Little, Richard Masur, Roddy McDowall, Meat Loaf, Robert Morley, Richard Mulligan, Stuart Pankin, Vincent Price, Tony Randall, and Arnold Schwarzenegger!

It’s a given that a cast like this manages a few laughs, but unfortunately that’s pretty much the extent of it. Far too much of the humor is tame and predictable, and the laughs that do eek through are fairly subtle. The final twenty minutes or so are solid with some fun action and story turns, but it’s an uneventful trip getting there.

Kino’s new Blu-ray features:

Scavenger Hunt [Blu-ray]

Stryker (1983)

The world is in ruins, and the only remaining currencies are violence and water. When a band of thugs abducts a woman who knows where to find the latter a pair of lesser thugs come to her rescue, but are their combined forces enough to battle the villain threatening to rule it all?

As Road Warrior knockoffs go this is definitely one of them. The plot beats are here, but that’s about it. Everything else is lacking from the charismatic performances to the incredibly eye-catching stunt work, and all that’s left is a fairly dull action romp with fights and car chases that continually underwhelm.

There’s really little else to say about this one.

Kino’s new Blu-ray features:

Stryker [Blu-ray]

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.