After getting shot by a Richard Nixon-masked bank robber during a heist, LAPD officer Dennis Meechum (Brian Dennehy) turns his account of the events into a bestselling novel. Years later, Meechum is a successful detective looking for a hit follow-up novel but lacking inspiration. A man (James Woods) in conspicuous Ray Bans approaches him on the street, claiming to be a longtime assassin for a shady corporation. Meechum is initially skeptical, but a violent turn of events gives the man's story credibility and Meechum finds himself once again in the line of fire. This is a great little ‘80s potboiler, with sharp performances by Dennehy and Woods and pointed direction by John Flynn (Rolling Thunder).
Meechum's career skyrocketed after his first book, but life hit him hard soon after: His wife died of a swift, deadly disease, leaving him to parent a daughter alone, and writer's block set in hard. Cleve (Woods) actually saves Meechum's life at a crime scene before unloading his story of corporate murder, so Meechum feels required to listen. What perks his ear most is the revelation that slimy corporate tycoon David Madlock (Paul Shenar) profited from the Nixon heist. Cleve tags along with the detective across Los Angeles, filling him in on his past, as Madlock tries to convince Meechum that Cleve is the real bad guy.
Sure, it's pretty implausible that a veteran law enforcement officer would sit in waiting as a career criminal reveals his past dealings in murder and corruption, but it's the f'ing eighties. Soaked in synth and sun, Best Seller is an enjoyably tense, non-buddy cop movie. Things go over-the-top at times, especially Woods, but that is part of the appeal. They don't make cop dramas like this anymore, so I reveled in it. You know who the real villain is, but there are a number of not-so-unexpected revelations about Cleve to sweeten the pot.
There are a couple of nice action sequences and some very accomplished photography from Flynn, who never really got the respect he deserved. The two leads are great together, and I wish Dennehy were making better films today. I am sure this played in heavy rotation on cable after its 1987 release, but seeing Best Seller in high definition for the first time was an enjoyable experience. As far as good ‘80s pulp goes, this one fits the bill.
Olive Films provides a decent 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image that is largely without print damage or debris. There is some nice fine-object detail and texture here, though I noticed some minor DNR. Black levels are good, skin tones accurate, and colors nicely saturated. There is a bit of softness here and there, and some minor aliasing.
The 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is OK, but a surround mix would have been nice considering that there is a fair amount of action. Dialogue is crisp, the score is well balanced and some ambient and action effects retreat to the rear speakers. No dubs or subs.
Just the Trailer (1:45/SD).
I miss the ‘80s. Brian Dennehy and James Woods enjoy the hell out of this cop and criminal drama from Director John Flynn. High art it's not, but Best Seller is an entertaining ride. Recommended.