review for Ricochet on AllMovie

Ricochet (1991)
by Derek Armstrong review

Ricochet is an appropriate name for a movie that shoots off in a dozen different directions. Russell Mulcahy's film can't decide whether it's about the perils of too much career ambition, the media's unapologetic attraction to sleaze, or white supremacy. That's right, just to make John Lithgow's scenery-chewing villain a bit nastier, he has a fleeting association with the Aryan Nation. One can never make too many predictions about an obsessed mind, but one of the problems with Ricochet is that Lithgow's Earl Talbot Blake fixates on Denzel Washington's cop-turned-DA, Nick Styles, just because Styles was a johnny-on-the-spot, foiling a very pathetic robbery attempt almost by dumb luck. The systematic character assassination that follows, after Blake escapes prison and fakes his own death, can be chilling at times, but it never feels warranted. However, the movie does see Styles' fall from grace as some kind of justified punishment for his lofty ambitions -- all part of a mixed message that becomes even harder to piece together once you consider the presence of the white supremacy group. It's hard not to come away from Ricochet without seeing it as some kind of racial morality play, where all the black characters -- even the lawless gangbanger played by Ice-T, conveniently introduced in the opening and then stashed until needed in the third act -- are righteous, and most if not all the whites are trying to bring them down. It has effective moments of tension, and some great individual scenes of paranoia by an addled Washington. But Ricochet ultimately collapses under too much bombast and absurdity, including an overblown climax, and one hilarious death scene, in which the character spits out a ridiculous sound bite just before expiring. Mulcahy and his team of screenwriters bit off more than they could chew on this one.