Best Seller is a farfetched 1987 crime thriller from director John Flynn (Lock Up) and writer Larry Cohen (Phone Booth) starring James Woods and Brian Dennehy. Dennehy plays gruff cop and crime novelist Dennis Meechum who owes his publisher a second novel but is suffering through a bad case of writer’s block. Along comes hitman James Woods as Cleve who claims he is responsible for killing numerous corporate competitors from corporate bigwig David Madlock (Paul Shenar). Meechum is skeptical at first, but the thought of an inside scoop to fuel his next novel is too tantalizing an opportunity for Meechum to pass up. When Madlock gets word of the tell all book, however, it spells danger for Meechum, his daughter, and even his deadly hitman source.
Best Seller is full of ’80s style, but like many action movies of the era, the screenplay defies logic at every turn. Let’s start with the unlikely idea that a career police officer would willfully get in league with an admitted hitman, all jokes about dirty cops aside. It may be a tempting proposition at first in order to help with his book, but once he begins taking Cleve on ride alongs, the bodies start dropping, and nobody notices this, it really stretches the idea of suspension of disbelief.
Even with the cliché genre material that weighs the film down, the performances from Brian Dennehy as a tough, no nonsense cop and James Woods as the suave hitman with ice in his veins should please fans of both actors. Certainly fans of these escapist genre films should have no complaints about the no-need-to-think-too-hard plot line, the numerous shoot-em-up sequences, and pervading feeling of suspense.
Best Seller looks good, but certainly not great. While some cleanup has been done, it’s pretty obvious that no major restoration has been undertaken on this minor ’80s film. The AVC 1080p encodement does have a natural layer of grain, but that grain can also sometimes be a bit overwhelming in the dark scenes and in some places is very thick. Softness and issues with scratches are also a problem, although for the most part we get stretches of reasonable imagery and good texture in close-ups. Flesh tones are strong and natural and contrast, especially in brighter scenes, is pleasing.
A lossless stereo DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) track is the sole option. The stereo imaging is rather narrow, but it is good enough to provide very clean dialogue and punchy midrange for that ’80s, digital sounding musical score. The music sounds a bit edgy and harsh in that typically cold, digital ’80s way, but that is perhaps unavoidable.
All that’s included is the original theatrical trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:01:44).
The Definitive Word
A suspenseful ’80s crime thriller that is pure genre material and nowhere near being a classic, Best Seller is a slow day sort of film for those who like their ’70s and ’80s crime films and the actors that front them.
Additional Screen Captures