Charles Bronson is "a hero all the way" (Variety) as a rogue cop pursuing a deranged killer in this action-packed suspense thriller. Serving up vigilante justice as only he can, Bronson delivers one of his most riveting pe... more »rformances in this "exceedingly well-made" (Gene Siskel) film. Bronson plays Leo Kessler, a cynical Los Angeles cop on the trail of Warren Stacey (Gene Davis), a homicidal maniac who turns rejection from beautiful women into the ultimate revenge. When the legal system sets Stacey free, Kessler plants evidence to put him behind bars for good. But Kessler's plan backfires, leaving him with only one option: to hunt down Stacey on his own?before the crazed killer strikes again!« less
A world-weary LA cop (Charles Bronson) plants evidence on a young man (Gene Davis) suspected of the serial homicide of several beautiful women, but the plan backfires and Davis subsequently targets Bronson's grown-up daughter (Lisa Eilbacher)...
One of a series of gritty urban thrillers inspired by the success of DEATH WISH, J. Lee Thompson's 10 TO MIDNIGHT was produced by the Cannon studios in 1983 and is fairly typical of the company's commercial output. Though he'd worked in a variety of genres since the early 1950's, Charles Bronson became synonymous with the kind of tough-but-sympathetic vigilante character he plays here, this time seeking a handsome young psychopath who strips naked before murdering his (primarily female) victims. Indeed, Gene Davis' extensive nude scenes provide the film's only significant trump card, leading to a number of curious plot developments (because he was naked when he committed his crimes, Davis knows that Bronson must have planted blood on his clothes, but he can't admit to it without... well, you get the picture), though cinematographer Adam Greenberg (GHOST, RUSH HOUR, the 'Terminator' series) turns visual cartwheels in an effort to avoid full frontal nudity (and a potential X rating).
Thompson - who gravitated towards Hollywood after forging a successful career in his native UK, where he directed a number of popular mainstream entries like YIELD TO THE NIGHT and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE - takes enormous pleasure in foregrounding the more exploitable elements of William Roberts' lively screenplay, though an unpleasant sequence near the end of the film evokes queasy memories of Richard Speck's true-life killing spree in 1966, when several nurses were slaughtered in a Chicago townhouse in a fashion similar to the killings depicted here. However, these sensationalist components are deployed in the service of a right-wing narrative in which the criminal justice system is rendered weak and ineffective by Davis' scumbag killer and his equally sleazy lawyer (a typically scene-stealing turn from Geoffrey Lewis). When Bronson confronts his nemesis during the inevitable climactic showdown, the audience is literally compelled - through dialogue and editing - to invite brutal retribution on Davis' irredeemable bad guy. It's cheap, manipulative and cynical, but it's also undeniably effective, and Bronson's closing line of dialogue is guaranteed to arouse guilty fascist impulses within even the most liberal viewers.
Davis is the spitting image of his actor brother Brad (the late and much lamented star of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) and is quite effective in a difficult role, though his subsequent career appears to have gone nowhere, which is a shame. Co-star Andrew Stevens made a brief splash in movies like this one (including Brian DePalma's THE FURY) before becoming a producer on a wide range of Hollywood pictures (everything from 'erotic thrillers' such as NIGHT EYES to blockbusters like DRIVEN and BALLISTIC ECKS VS. SEVER, etc.), and Lisa Eilbacher enjoyed a momentary spotlight on the big screen before returning to TV (where she had begun her career in the likes of "The Texas Wheelers" and "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries") before fading from the business altogether. Word has it that the title 10 TO MIDNIGHT (a meaningless phrase) had been announced by Cannon for another film which ultimately failed to materialize, but someone obviously liked the sound of it and simply re-used it here! The 'TV version' is a laff riot, with alternate takes featuring Davis in black briefs. On DVD, however, you get to see (almost) every inch of his fabulous, sculpted body. Drool, slobber... "
Bronson hunts a crafty serial killer.
Chadwick H. Saxelid | Concord, CA United States | 12/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the career ending movies Charles Bronson made for Cannon films in the mid-to-late eighties, 10 to Midnight is the best. He plays a cop trying too hard to catch a smart, handsome, and devilishly twisted psycho killer (Gene Davis). When the game of cat and mouse eventually snags the cop's daughter (Lisa Eilbacher), he takes a desperate gamble to catch the crafty murderer. Director J. Lee Thompson masterfully blends the Dirty Harry Rogue Cop thriller with some slasher film moments of brutal terror that will have viewers squirming in their seats. A real nail biter, highly recommended."
You'll hear from me again..."No, we won't."
firstname.lastname@example.org | 05/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charles Bronson vigilante film has the familiar premise that sometimes deadly force is needed to protect society from a madman. This film features a (typically) magnificent performance from a young Lisa Eilbacher (as Bronson's daughter, a student nurse, whose apartment ends up victims of the killer). Well worth a look...better than most in the genre...perhaps the only true sequel, besides Magnum Force, to Dirty Harry..."
What's The Title Have To Do With Anything?
Stanley Runk | Camp North Pines | 09/26/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What do you do when you have a naked psychopath running around in the buff killing girls that turned him down? Well, if you're Bronson, you get Bronson on his behind! Coz Chuck isn't a nice person, he's a "mean, selfish S.O.B." You may want a story, but Chuck wants a killer, and what he wants comes first! He hates quiche, and coleslaw makes him sick! Well, after unsuccessfully trying to put this creep in the slammer by bending the rules a tad, Bronson's thrown off the force. Well, we all know that never stopped him before, so he continues to go after the killer(a wonderfully pathetic, yet creepy performance by Gene Davis). But guess what! The killer goes after Bronson's daughter(naturally), and it becomes personal. Well, I won't give it all away(not that I need to, this is a Bronson movie here), but I'd recommend this one. It's harmless cheap thrills-a little bit of tough guy action and a little bit of slasher flick. What more could you want? Perfect late night viewing."
Pretty Good Slasher Film.
hedeschance | Toronto, Canada | 04/23/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A young man starts killing women who will have nothing to do with him. But he kills them with his clothes off. I didnot understand this, wouldn't you still get blood on your clothes when you put them on? But Bronson wants him put away, and does what ever it takes. He breaks the law, gets fired and turns vigilante."