Love and Bullets (1979) / Thriller-Drama
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Rod Steiger, Henry Silva, Strother Martin
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Screenplay: Wendell Mayes, John Melson
Review published March 16, 2002
Without the ridiculous and typical Charles Bronson (Death Wish, Assassination) ending, Love and Bullets might have gotten a modest recommendation. Within this rather routine thriller, there are a number of things to like. For starters, the storyline removes Bronson from the usual locale of the inner city and into the mountains of Switzerland. There are also some terrific over-the-top performances by Rod Steiger (The Amityville Horror, Mars Attacks!) and Jill Ireland (Hard Times, Death Wish 2). Lastly, it is also technically a notch above most Bronson vehicles, with good cinematography, a punchy script, and some solid direction by Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke, Brubaker). Yet, in the end, it's the reliance on clichés that eventually does Love and Bullets in, and no cliché bigger in the Bronson oeuvre than going above the law and exacting ultimate justice in the last scene.
Bronson plays Charlie Congers, a Phoenix police detective that is sent to Switzerland to deliver the moll of a notorious New York crime lord back to the United States to testify against him. Steiger is the gangster, who at the urging of his partners in crime, decides to ice the girl he loves for the good of his operation as a whole and piece of mind. He hires an Italian professional, as ruthless as they come, and things get pretty hairy as Bronson and Ireland (the moll) find they are in trouble at almost every turn in their attempt at escape from the Swiss mountains.
Although one of the better Bronson vehicles, and one in which he actually turns in a good performance, when one looks at the talent involved Love and Bullets can only be deemed as a disappointment. First, John Huston is said to have directed parts of the film, albeit uncredited. Regardless, the credited director is a good one, Stuart Rosenberg, who was also the man behind the helm for Cool Hand Luke. Love and Bullets was also written by Wendell Mayes, who penned such film greats as Anatomy of a Murder, The Poseidon Adventure, and Bronson's career pinnacle, Death Wish.
Then toss in an Oscar-winner like Rod Steiger as the heavy, good chemistry with wifey Ireland, and a score by Lalo Schifrin (Rollercoaster, Enter the Dragon), and you can see why this had the talent to be something more than what it is, namely, a forgettable throwaway in a career that would later degenerate into nothing but forgettable throwaways at the hands of lesser talent. Unless you are a fan of Bronson, you probably have better things to do with your time.
©2014 Vince Leo