William Friedkin remains one of the best directors of the New Hollywood boom of the ’70s his run of The French Connection, The Exorcist and Sorcerer is unparalleled by his contemporaries.Sorcerer was a total critical and commercial failure (since been reappraised as arguably his best work) mostly due to the release of Star Wars around the same time. The Brink’s Job is an odd film for him to end his golden period because it’s lacks the pounding adrenaline his previous films from the ’70s contained, it’s more akin to something his contemporary Peter Bogdanovich would have made, a throwback picture to the films of old.
The Brink’s Job is based on a true story of a massive robbery of millions by a gang of small-time crooks led by Tony Pino played by Peter Falk. They basically stumble upon this massive score after a bunch of small-time jobs that didn’t go completely to plan, this time it’s a job so easy it’s almost impossible to screw up. The gang includes classic New Hollywood character actors Peter Boyle and the mighty Warren Oates. Gena Rowlands who had worked a lot with Falk on Cassavetes films appears as Pino’s wife Mary.
Friedkin himself has been relatively critical of the finished film and pretty much summed up what’s good and bad about the film with this quote “it has some nice moments, despite thinly drawn characters, but it left no footprint. There’s little intensity or suspense and the humour is an acquired taste. The film doesn’t shout, it doesn’t sing – it barely whispers”. It doesn’t have any real dent on the viewer’s memory like his previous films or his woefully underrated follow-up Cruising. The performances from the exceptional cast are really hard to fault but the script needed another rewrite and the comedic elements don’t work at all.
The Brink’s Job remains a curiosity in Friedkin’s career which is a lot better than much of his ’80 and ’90s output. Luckily his last two films Bug and Killer Joe have really shown Friedkin never lost it, just never had the opportunity to make the films he should have since To Live and Die in L.A. It runs at a nice pace of 100 minutes and never outstays its welcome but it lacks the real punch to be a classic of the era and seems oddly old-fashioned for Friedkin. The rarity to see the film has finally been overcome by Network’s dvd release which includes a trailer and stills gallery.