A soft-boiled thriller in a hard-boiled shell, with a hero of similar description: a toughie on the outside, a softie within. Bob Hoskins, for whom it was expressly written, is very likable in the role, but it is not enough just to like him. You have to like the fellow he is portraying as well, and though you will probably have little difficulty doing that, you may not be able to do so without being aware of how little choice you have in the matter, how ramrodded into it you are. Unbroken, or rather unhardened, by seven years in prison, the hero accepts a menial job from his former boss (Michael Caine, in his most reptilian mode) as chauffeur and chaperon to a high-priced call girl. The outcome of this -- a lower-stratum version of the chauffeur-and-lady relationship of The Hireling -- is all quite touching, of course, but the touch is heavy, and more than a little sticky. With Cathy Tyson; directed by Neil Jordan. 1986.

Duncan Shepherd

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