LEGAL EAGLES - What's Holding Up, Or Not
The title is not a reference to the inevitability of physical deterioration. Redford is 80-something. Winger and Hannah ain't far behind. This review is a statement on the dynamic of filmmaking, and how much, despite a great concept and great writing, a movie cannot escape Father Time.
Redford is Assistant District Attorney, Tom Logan. Winger is Laura Kelly, private attorney and champion of birds with broken wings. Hannah is Chelsea Deardon, a bird with a broken wing.
Seems her father, up-and-coming SOHO artist, Sebastian Deardon, was killed or murdered in a fire in 1968 when Chelsea was eight years old. Many of his paintings were destroyed, save for one he crafted for Chelsea and a few others. Flash forward eighteen years and the nubile offspring has gotten herself in trouble with the law for a variety of crimes included attempted theft, attempted murder, attempted breaking-and-entering, and attempted assault.
Chelsea cannot genuinely finish anything, but that doesn't keep her from having to stand trial for all the above attempts. Enter the handsome D.A., recently canned for reasons known only to the animated cigar store Indian known as Steven Hill, and PRESTO! Instant defense attorney.
Logan, with the ravishing Debra Winger in tow, saves Chelsea; rescues some of the paintings; and survives a mano-a-mano throwdown with the intimidating Brian Dennehy.
But along the way, the film loses some of its subjective snap due to age. The movie, released in 1986, boasted a perfectly serviceable track by Elmer Bernstein, good contemporary art direction, and a plot not entirely derivative. It shows the wear and tear of contrived dialogue, in particular during the exchanges inside New York's City Hall court rooms and hallways. It also violates too many public car chase scenes and shootouts. Two scenes invoked the use of an automatic weapon in Manhattan. Now, while the squishes which currently run Gotham have turned much of NYC into a crime-infested video game, there is not much chance that anyone, even in the 80s is going to unleash a several round mow down of Saturday afternoon shoppers.
Legal Eagles remains an engaging movie. Winger and Hannah are breathtaking in their feminine appeal. Redford dominates the screen. Terence Stamp, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Brian Dennehy are their reliable selves.
But the sentimental sadness over the geriatric pacing and forced situations of the film is apparent. Remaking it ain't an option.
Just be grateful for what we had and what we have.