Review: Judgment Night (1993)

Director: Stephen Hopkins | 110 minutes | Action, Drama, Crime | Actors: Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Denis Leary, Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven, Peter Greene, Erik Schrody, Michael Wiseman, Michael DeLorenzo, Relioues Webb, Will Zahrn, Eugene Williams, Christine Harnos, Galyn Görg, Angela Alvarado, Lauren Robinson, Doug Wert, Rachel Watt, Diedre Kelly, Kathleen Perkins, David L. Crowley, Stuart Abramson, Mark Phelan, Nigel Gibbs, Sean O’Grady, Lydell M. Cheshier, Donovan D. Ross, Michael Scranton, Robert S. Neville , Hank McGill

The title “Judgment Night” doesn’t really fit this movie, it is reminiscent of “Terminator”. “Men’s outing will be hellish night” might have been better. That happens with the four friends Frank (Emilio Estevez), Mike (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), John (Stephen Dorff) and Ray (Jeremy Piven). Frank is the only one with a wife and baby, the rest are single and want to drink, party and go to an important boxing match that night. But the evening takes an unexpected turn when the men witness a murder. Instead of watching boxing for a night, they get to run for their lives. Gangster Fallon (Denis Leary) and his henchmen chase the friends through the back streets of town.

It takes a while for “Judgment Night” to get going. The relationship between the friends is explained and there are pieces that are a bit on the slow side. But when the hunt begins, the action continues nicely. Villain Fallon has a cool introduction to the shadows. In almost every role and also his stand-up comedy work, Denis Leary gets excited about something (that’s just how he is at his best). Here you can also see him swearing and raving as a maniacal murderer. He is flanked by Sykes played by Peter Greene. Greene often plays the bad guy, most know him from “The Mask” (1994) and “The Usual Suspects” (1995). It’s a shame his role is no longer here.

The role of wise father Frank doesn’t quite suit Estevez, Charlie Sheen’s older brother, but all he has to do is look, run and shoot in shock. Cuba Gooding Jr. is the toughest of the foursome, he has mastered his shocked face the best. Stephen Dorff can play Frank’s younger brother here. He was here in his twenties and really looks very young. Jeremy Piven of “Smokin ‘Aces” (2007) and the TV series “Entourage” (2004) may be the materialistic coward here and he does it well. You would love to punch this scaredy hare a few times.

During “Judgment Night” you can feel the tension. Especially in the apartment building and at the marshalling yard, you hold your breath there just like the hunted. Maybe you can question the way Frank chases the bus down an alley, because this looks really stupid. But what is done right is the hostile environment in which the lost friends find themselves. There is no telephone, the police do not come, the local residents are skittish and the buses do not stop there. It’s like they don’t stand a chance. That’s why Judgment Night is a good choice for those looking for a thrilling action thriller.

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