Friday, September 04, 2015
Ed Harris (THE ABYSS) earned a special Introducing credit for his first major role in a motion picture. Harris plays Hotchkiss, a “coyote” who takes money to smuggle undocumented aliens across the Mexican border into California. Bronson is Jeb Maynard, a Border Patrol officer who wants Hotchkiss’ ass for killing his partner (Wilford Brimley) and doesn’t wanna hear any “probable cause crap” outta his men investigating the murder.
Directed by Jerrold Freedman (KANSAS CITY BOMBER), who mostly worked in television, BORDERLINE relies less on action than one might expect from a Bronson vehicle. The script by Steve Kline (LOU GRANT) is in the police procedural mode, as Maynard and his new rookie partner (Bruno Kirby) follow the clues to Hotchkiss, who learned his lessons in killing from the United States government in Vietnam, and beyond to the white collar executives pulling the strings on the flesh smuggling operation for their skyscraper offices.
Maynard's plan involves recruiting the mother of a young boy also murdered with Brimley and using her to smuggle both of them (he’s playing “slow” because his Spanish isn’t very good) into the U.S. in order to infiltrate Hotchkiss’ organization. That we know Hotchkiss is the killer means the story has few surprises, and the PG rating cuts down on the star’s trademark gore and violence. However, official cooperation from the U.S. Border Patrol lends the production an air of realism and respectability that makes it enormously watchable.