Ricochet (film)

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Ricochet ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRussell Mulcahy
Produced byMichael Levy
Joel Silver
Screenplay bySteven E. de Souza
Story byFred Dekker
Menno Meyjes
Music byAlan Silvestri
CinematographyPeter Levy
Edited byPeter Honess
HBO Pictures
Silver Pictures
Cinema Plus L.P.
Indigo Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • October 4, 1991 (1991-10-04)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$21,756,163

Ricochet is a 1991 American action crime thriller film, directed by Russell Mulcahy and starring Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak, and Lindsay Wagner. The film details a struggle between a Los Angeles attorney (Washington) and a vengeful criminal (Lithgow) whom he arrested when he was a cop.


In 1983, rookie Los Angeles police officer and law student Nicholas Styles (Denzel Washington) meets his future wife Alice (Victoria Dillard). He drifts away from his childhood friend Odessa (Ice-T), who has become a drug dealer in South Central Los Angeles. Styles and his partner Larry Doyle (Kevin Pollak) patrol a carnival, where they encounter hitman Earl Talbot Blake (John Lithgow) and his servile accomplice Kim (Josh Evans). Styles catches Blake at gunpoint and is forced into a standoff when Blake takes a hostage. After stripping his equipment and uniform off, Styles uses a hidden gun in his athletic supporter, shooting Blake in the knee and subduing him. The incident is caught by an amateur videographer and is shown on television, making Styles a hero. He and Doyle are subsequently promoted to Detective, while Blake is sent to prison.

Eight years later, Styles has moved on to be an Assistant District Attorney, is married to Alice, and has two daughters. At the same time, Blake allies himself with the Aryan Brotherhood to plot an escape so he can take revenge against Styles. Having been incarcerated with Blake, Kim is paroled and plans to assist in Blake's escape and revenge. Blake and the AB members stage a deadly prison escape during a parole hearing, which only Blake and the AB leader survive. Blake murders the gang leader and burns his corpse.

Styles finds Odessa, who has become a major drug dealer in the neighborhood, and pleads with him to stop dealing to children. Blake and Kim later kill a city councilman who works with Styles, planting child pornography in his briefcase and staging his death to look like a suicide. They also make it look like Styles was embezzling city funds. Blake and Kim abduct Styles outside his home and hold him hostage in an empty swimming pool for several days. They regularly inject Styles with heroin and cocaine while engaging in arm wrestling. Blake hires a prostitute (Linda Dona) to have sex with Styles. She ignores Styles' weak objections and rapes him as Blake records the incident on video. After Blake and Kim deposit an unconscious Styles on the steps of City Hall, Alice overhears Styles’ superiors telling him he has tested positive for gonorrhea, and thinks he is cheating on her.

Styles witnesses a video of Blake going up to his daughters' room and holding a hatchet over them just before the tape cuts out. Terrified and enraged, Styles heads to the park where his family are watching a circus act, sees a black-clad figure he believes to be Blake and holds him at gunpoint; the figure turns out to be a clown, making Styles look unstable. Blake then releases the recording of Styles' rape, which out of context looks like he is buying sex. District Attorney Priscilla Brimleigh (Lindsay Wagner) then suspends him.

Determined to prove his innocence, Styles and Doyle beat information out of one of Blake’s former AB allies. Blake fatally shoots Doyle and plants Styles’ fingerprints on the gun.

Desperate, Styles contacts Odessa for help, evacuates his family from their home, and takes them to the housing project Odessa uses as a drug lab. Styles then goes to the roof and raves to the street below, appearing to be suicidal; this draws out Blake, who wants Styles to live a long, miserable life. Styles fakes his own death by starting an explosion in the building and escaping.

Odessa's gang abducts Kim, and Odessa sends a message to Blake that Styles is alive and intends to get him, challenging him to come to the Watts Towers. Blake finds Kim tied to the scaffolding and kills him. On the towers, Blake and Styles fight until Styles knocks Blake off the tower, fatally impaling him on a spike. Styles reunites with his family and calls out to Odessa one last time, inviting him to basketball. The television news crews are there, broadcasting the latest events that have dramatically proven Styles innocent. When a newscaster (Mary Ellen Trainor) asks Styles for a comment, he turns off the news camera.



Originally, the screenplay to Ricochet by Fred Dekker was written as a Dirty Harry film, but Clint Eastwood deemed it too grim. When the script was attached to Joel Silver as producer in a different direction, Dekker met Kurt Russell about starring while Dekker was to be director, which it never was able to reach in its pre-production stage.[1]

Reportedly, violent scenes in the film were heavily cut down following the test screenings. According to interview with director Russell Mulcahy, in one of the scenes that were cut out Blake physically abuses Styles until Styles pukes out and Blake gets a sponge to clean him up. This is why Styles has vomit on him when he is found in the streets. The Uncut Version of the film was never released.


On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a score of 72% based on 18 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10.[2] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[3]

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film two thumbs down on their show At the Movies, describing it as ridiculous, goofy, embarrassing, unsavory and distasteful but also stylish, ambitious and having some smart dialogue.[4]

Box office[edit]

The movie had a modest box office. It premiered five weeks prior to the premiere of Cape Fear, a film starring Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte with a very similar storyline.[5]


  1. ^ "Fred Dekker interview". fakeshemp.net.
  2. ^ "Ricochet (1991)-Rotten Tomatoes".
  3. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  4. ^ http://siskelandebert.org/video/8OY76MM18YAH/Frankie-and-Johnny-Homicide-Little-Man-Tate-1991. Retrieved 2016-10-24. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office : 'Fisher King' Still Reigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-08-05.

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