Sunday, June 14, 2015

Next of Kin (1989)

Big city policeman and former hillbilly Truman is living in style with his music teacher wife, who announces her pregnancy by strapping a teddy bear to a dining room chair. Surprise! Happy hillbilly times for all.

Truman's younger brother has been working in the city, but city life isn't for him. So he's planning on moving back to Appalachia in a few weeks when he's saved enough money to buy his own truck.  In movie speak, this means he is marked for death.

When Truman accompanies his brothers body back home for the funeral, he asks his kin to let the law take it's course and catch the killer. But brother Briar wants hillbilly justice, which involves a mob of kinfolk and lots of killing.  Don't mess with hillbillies. They all come running and you end up all sorts of dead.

When Truman's method of justice isn't quick enough, Briar takes it on himself to seek revenge.  He navigates the streets surprisingly well for a backwoods hillbilly without a map who has never been to the city before.  He also happens to pick the one flop house where the proprietor can be trusted to follow through on his request to call his hillbilly brethren should he disappear, instead of ransacking his room.

Patrick Swayze plays Truman, a tough but honest man who follows the rules until pushed past the breaking point.  But the more interesting character is revenge seeking Briar played by Liam Neeson.  When he comes to the city, you'd much rather watch him calmly seek revenge than watch Truman play it by the book or his wife freak out when paint is thrown in her face by a mobster.

It's a fun movie to watch with friends, and part of the enjoyment is the cast which, along with Swayze and Neeson, includes Helen Hunt, Ben Stiller, Adam Baldwin, Michael J. Pollard, and Bill Paxton.

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