A Movie A Day #58: Seven Hours to Judgment (1988, directed by Beau Bridges)


7hrs_to_judgement-frntWhen I saw that Erin has picked Judge Not My Sins for her artwork of the day, I was reminded of Seven Hours to Judgment, a movie that used to occasionally show up on HBO.

David Reardon (Ron Liebman) owns an electronics store and is professionally known as “Crazy Dave.”  When three gang members, led by Chino (Reggie Johnson), are arrested for pushing Dave’s wife off of a subway platform, it looks like the legal system might let them go.  Because Dave’s wife is in a coma, she cannot testify that they pushed her.  However, Dave has tracked down a witness who saw what Chino did.  But the witness is not immediately available to testify.  Dave begs Judge John Eden (Beau Bridges) for an extension but the judge is one of those bleeding heart, by-the-book types.  Even though he believes Chino to be guilty, Judge Eden dismisses the case.  At the same time, Dave’s wife dies and Crazy Dave starts to live up to his nickname.

With the help of one of his employees, the hulking and child-like Ira (Tiny Ron), Dave kidnaps both Judge Eden and his wife (Julianne Phillips).  Dave tells Judge Eden that he has seven hours to track down the witness and get the evidence that would have convicted Chino.  If Eden doesn’t find the evidence, his wife will be blown up.  Judge Eden is dumped in the worst part of town, without any money, identification, or credit cards.  Dave tells him, “You helped create these streets!”

The rest of the movie is Eden running through the mean streets of wherever the movie is supposed to be taking place.  (It was filmed in Seattle but the city is never specifically named.)  Everyone who meets Eden tries to beat him up, which is one way to put a judge who is soft on crime in his place.  The only person who doesn’t beat up Eden is a homeless woman who licks his face.  Soon, Eden even has Chino after him.  The normally laid back and affable Beau Bridges isn’t usually thought of as being an action star and this movie shows why.  Judge Eden is such a wuss of a hero that it seems appropriate that he eventually has to hitch a ride in the back of a garbage truck.

Along with the miscasting of Beau Bridges, the other major problem with Seven Hours to Judgment is that it requires us to believe that Dave, even if he is “crazy,” could come up with such an intricate and elaborate plan and set it all up within just a few hours of his wife dying and Chino being released.  “Smug liberal get mugged by reality” was a successful theme for many low-budget action films in the 1980s but Seven Hours to Judgment is ultimately just as dumb and implausible as it sounds.

Seven Hours to Judgment was a reunion for Leibman and Bridges, who previously co-starred in an excellent and overlooked road movie called Your Three Minutes Are Up.  For some reason, Beau Bridges also directed Seven Hours to Judgment.

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