If the title doesn’t sound familiar, you may know the movie under its original title: Dead Connection. Or, of course it’s possible that you’re like me and have just never heard of this movie. However, know that Dead Connection is a better title given the story centers around a grizzled detective (Michael Madsen; Resevoir Dogs) hunting a serial killer who uses phone sex lines to amp himself up to kill young girls in hotel rooms. That’s basically it. There’s a forced romantic plot between Madsen and Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show), who plays a journalist also hunting the serial killer for personal reasons, and through their relationship Madsen’s detective character gets personally involved in the case.
Along the way, Final Combination accumulates just about every crime drama cliche you can imagine. Our hero isn’t above crossing lines to get what he wants, he’s a borderline alcoholic, unshaven, but somehow irresistible to every woman he meets. He has an unwavering moral compass, bashing his fellow cops for playing practical jokes while girls are dying, but has plenty of time to go get drunk and laid. I like Michael Madsen a lot, and this role is definitely up his alley, but the writing and directing is so thin that they don’t utilize Madsen’s badassery nearly enough. For one thing, I’d really like to see him be a detective a little bit. Figuring out clues and deciphering evidence. He mostly just falls into evidence and benefits from the villain’s ego as he enjoys taunting Madsen’s character into catching him. I guess that’s easier than writing a detective character who’s actually intelligent and good at his job, but it’s pretty boring to me.
Bonet brings very little to the movie. Her acting isn’t particularly bad, but she’s given nothing to do and feels like she’s only there to give Madsen’s character a romantic interest. Why she cares about this case is never clear and Madsen isn’t an interesting enough character to carry the entire film.
In the end, good triumphs over evil, the guy gets the girl, and everyone walks off into the sunset never to be bothered again. Nothing is surprising, so if you’ve seen any cop drama ever, you’ve probably already seen everything this has to offer.
I appreciate Fox putting some of their ancient properties on DVD for the first time, but I think I’m figuring out why these movies sat on a shelf for decades without seeing the light of day.
Available now on DVD from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archive.