My Review of ‘Malone’ (1987)

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This movie caught my eye recently, because I like spy thrillers or, in this case, an ex-spy thriller.

The title character Richard Malone is a former CIA assassin who has, much to his employers’ dismay, given his backdated two-weeks notice. Malone (played by Burt Reynolds) takes his car for a very long spin and ends up broken down somewhere in rural Oregon. And since it’s going to take forever for the parts to be delivered, Malone is invited to stay with the garage owner, Paul Barlow (played by Scott Wilson), who has a teenage daughter, Jo (played by Cynthia Gibb).

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Via the ace black blog.

And while the parts are en route (in a time before Amazon or same-day delivery), Malone discovers that Paul is one of the many townsfolk country folk being severely persuaded by some high-powered businessman to sell their land to him.


So it kind of starts out looking like a thriller about CIA defectors and changes into a modern version of Shane. Kinda.

I hesitate to say much more, because when you find out why the rich guy wants to buy all this land, the stakes go up considerably. As does the risk to Malone, who ends up being used for target practice a few times by the bad guys who, of course, fail.

I was a bit surprised that the film wasn’t exactly praised by critics.

With an economical 92-minute running time, Malone is an engaging action film. Having Burt Reynolds play the lead hurts not a bit. Apparently, his career had been floundering during this time, so I think this film may have helped put him back on the radar.

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Via 80s Movie Guide

I also think Malone’s CIA handler-who makes a sadly brief appearance toward the end of the picture-is an awesome character. And Lauren Hutton does a fine job of playing her. Even in the 80s, the “action” in action film was largely male-driven. Back then, if a woman did anything other than run or hide behind a man in an action film or maybe distract the bad guy, this was a major feminist achievement in the anals annals of film. Yes, really!

Here’s the trailer! (Psst! The trailer has affiliate links in it somewhere.)

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At least, four and a half stars seems fair.

Directed by Harley Cokeliss (as Harley Cokliss)
Produced by Leo L. Fuchs
Screenplay by Christopher Frank and Rudy Wurlitzer (uncredited)
(Based on the novel Shotgun by William P. Wingate)

Originally published at on May 21, 2020.

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website:

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