Blow Out (1981)
Brian DePalma's Blow Out is a taut thriller that would make Hitchcock proud. The Master of Suspense loved to put his characters in situations where they had to sit by helplessly while events occur beyond their control - the best example of this is Rear Window - and DePalma uses that technique to great effect in the finale of Blow Out.
John Travolta plays Jack, a Philadelphia movie sound man who witnesses a car accident one night while he is out recording audio on a bridge. He manages to rescue Sally (Nancy Allen) from the wreckage, but another man - who we later find out is the front-running Presidential candidate McRyan - is left for dead.
After reviewing his recording of the accident, Jack determines that this was no accident. He believes that somebody deliberately shot out the tire, but who, and why? When video of the accident surfaces, shot by a man named Karp (Dennis Franz), Jack begins to suspect that both Sally and Karp know more than they're letting on.
We also see glimpses of a vigilante psychopath, played by John Lithgow, but who is he, and what are his motives? Jack is determined to find out the truth and unravel the conspiracy, but despite many clues that this wasn't an accident, nobody else seems to want to investigate any further. Jack is also scared that now that the assassins have achieved their goal, anyone who might discover that this was no accident must be eliminated, including himself and Sally, to whom he has developed an attachment.
Blow Out is an excellent film that entertains on many levels - plus it takes place in my fair city of Philadelphia. It doesn't dumb anything down for the audience, and the characters manage to act like any of us could see ourselves acting if placed in the same situations. Thumbs up.
February 12, 2005