I, the Jury
Time Out saysApart from Aldrich's extraordinary Kiss Me Deadly, the blood-and-guts thrillers of Mickey Spillane have not translated well to cinema. This adaptation delivers more sex and violence than ever before, and Assante plays Mike Hammer in a shambling Italian style, pleasingly reminiscent of De Niro in Mean Streets. But (possibly because Larry Cohen was replaced as director after a week) the film soon becomes repetitious, lacking the overall atmosphere of paranoia that makes Spillane's fictions bearable, and dwelling in a nauseating way (even by the standards of its source material) on sadistic sexual violence. The updated plot concerns sex clinics, post-Watergate cover-ups, and such a multitude of bad guys that even Hammer is only able to despatch about eighty of them. But the modern references just get in the way: as with Ian Fleming, an authentic Spillane adaptation would have to be set in the hysterical atmosphere of the Cold War.