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I think Hardcore kind of over-eggs the pudding up front by showing how conservative George C. Scott's character is - not just that he's a man of faith, but that he think blue is too overpowering a color, stuff like that - which makes his mid-film character turn hard to believe. He's shocked, disgusted and extremely uncomfortable with the world of sex workers and pornography his runaway teenager daughter seems to have fallen into, but he can suddenly pull off a seedy alternate identity and enact his crusade like some kind of Calvinist Liam Neeson? Not sure. Similarly, the daughter's motivations aren't really foregrounded enough to make sense (especially given how long we spend in her wholesome family environment), and I gotta say, it seems like a wasted opportunity to cast Marc Alaimo as the late-third act villain and never even let him speak a word. An actor with THAT voice. Shame. Shame. That said, Hardcore still has a lot of grit, sometimes has fun (as with the delusionally "artsy" porno production, and dares to be surreal (the chase through the kink dungeon, for example). If this is a descent into hell, then Peter Boyle's scuzzy private eye acts like a corrupting devil, and his motivations are also suspect. As one of Scorsese's key writers, Paul Schrader has crafted some iconic works. As a writer-director here, his attack on religious hypocrisy (with Scott as a man who believes himself and his family are part of God's chosen and cannot fall from Grace despite evidence to the contrary) becomes subservient to the film's sexploitation trappings.
Between the sordid Taxi Driver and the flashy American Gigolo.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #596 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #727 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films