Vincent Spano stars in OVER THE EDGE, directed by Jonathan Kaplan for Orion Pictures.

Over the Edge (1979, Jonathan Kaplan)

Over the Edge is explosive. Sorry, maybe that statement is a little glib–but it is literally explosive. More cars blow up in Over the Edge than a season of “The A-Team.” I think Kaplan was going for dramatic effect, but it’s hard to say. Kaplan’s actually the least interesting technical component of the film. Whenever he does make a bold choice, it’s a bad one (he pauses on lead Michael Eric Kramer as he passes from second act to third… as a 400 Blows homage, it fails).

But he’s mostly competent and helped a great deal by the rest of the crew. Andrew Davis’s photography is fantastic, very verité, which fits the film, and Sol Kaplan’s score is haunting. It’s like he’s scoring a forties film noir, not a seventies drama.

The script, from Charles S. Haas and Tim Hunter, has its strengths and weaknesses too. The stuff with the kids is better than the stuff with the parents. It’s clear they’re trying to balance, but it doesn’t come off.

Kramer’s good, usually having to share the screen with more dynamic actors. Matt Dillon’s one of them, but he’s more a dynamic character (Dillon has one of the few weak readings from the teenagers). Vincent Spano’s excellent. Pamela Ludwig and Tom Fergus are both good.

Andy Romano’s okay, but unbelievable (partially due to script), as Kramer’s father. Harry Northup’s great as the dumb cop in charge.

It’s good, but it should be better. The explosions make it absurd.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Jonathan Kaplan; written by Charles S. Haas and Tim Hunter; director of photography, Andrew Davis; edited by Robert Barrere; music by Sol Kaplan; production designer, James William Newport; produced by George Litto; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Michael Eric Kramer (Carl), Pamela Ludwig (Cory), Matt Dillon (Richie), Vincent Spano (Mark), Tom Fergus (Claude), Harry Northup (Doberman), Andy Romano (Fred Willat), Ellen Geer (Sandra Willat), Richard Jamison (Cole), Julia Pomeroy (Julia), Tiger Thompson (Johnny), Eric Lalich (Tip) and Kim Kliner (Abby).

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