“These straight-to-video, schlocky films I was getting were giving me an ulcer, basically because I was the only one on the set that cared about anything… Between that and my biological clock, I decided to give it all away.”
— Linda Kozlowksi, on why she retired from acting
When Linda Kozlowski talked about the “shlocky films” that soured her on acting, Backstreet Justice was probably high on the list. Kozlowski may have found fame co-starring with her then-husband Paul Hogan in the Crocodile Dundee films but, in Backstreet Justice, there’s neither an Australian nor a sense of humor to be found.
Kozlowski plays Keri Finnegan, a tough and streetwise private investigator in Philadelphia. Her late father was a policeman who was accused of corruption while her mentor (Hector Elizondo) is the district attorney. Most of the cops hate Keri, especially Captain Giarusso (Paul Sorvino). The one exception is her lover, Nick Donovan (John Shea).
The residents of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhood have hired Keri to protect them. For the past two years, a murderer has lurked among them. With the police showing no interest in solving the crimes, the neighborhood turns to Keri. Keri’s investigation leads her to believe that the murders are being carried out be corrupt cops but Keri isn’t prepared for just how far up the corruption goes.
For a straight-to-video film, Backstreet Justice has a surprisingly good cast, with Paul Sorvino, Hector Elizondo, John Shea, Tammy Grimes, and Viveca Lindfors all appearing in supporting roles. Linda Kozlowski holds her own opposite her better-known co-stars and is believable in the film’s many action scenes. The movie has a good sense of urban squalor and captures the desperation of people living in a dying neighborhood. The main problem with the film is that the central mystery is never that interesting and the solution is one that most people will see coming from miles away. For all the violence and scenes of people chasing each other, Backstreet Justice is still a boring movie.
With the exception of one surprisingly explicit sex scene, Backstreet Justice could easily pass for a made-for-TV film or a pilot for a Keri Finnegan television series. Instead, it was just another straight-to-video thriller and another reason for the talented Linda Kozlowski to leave acting behind. Her final film appearance was in 2001’s Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.