Kino Lorber releases a charming Blu-ray
Ahh yes, your classic principled, intellectual, friendly local… debt collector for hire?
At once highly improbable and almost inevitable, Taffin (1988) is like if you rolled the “airport paperback action novel” dice a few times and came up with the above sentence. There’s even a sort of 1980s adventure film subgenre based around “saving the community center” which Taffin conveniently falls into as well. It’s an entirely familiar kind of lone hero action movie that goes down easy, feels entirely satisfying, and revels in its few eccentricities.
Living in his small hometown village in Ireland, Taffin is at once revered and dismissed by the locals. When his “particular set of skills” are needed, folks will come calling, asking for his help to collect on debts with his unique blend of smarts and hard boiled toughness. He can get things done — his way. The script for Taffin (David Ambrose of The Final Countdown and D.A.R.Y.L. fame) ensures that most of the people hiring Taffin for collection gigs are righteous in their motivations, casting him as a hero. But when things are peaceful the town folk are loathe to associate with the man who is as much a weapon as he is a fellow citizen. And so the stage is set for a reluctant hero with a chip or two on his shoulder to square off against the wealthy elites who are conspiring behind ornamented manor gates to build a chemical plant right on top of the beloved athletic field in town. Taffin is the kind of movie where stuffy rich villains stand around a large scale model of a chemical plant and laugh villainously about how they’re going to profit off the local suckers.
As Taffin gets further caught up in the larger conspiracy unfurling in the town, he’s swept up in a pretty convincing love affair with The Last Crusade’s Alison Doody as Charlotte. I note how convincing this love affair is because part of the charm of Taffin is just how stunningly beautiful these two human beings are. As handsome as I’ve always believed Pierce Brosnan to be, he’s perhaps his most dashing here in glorious high definition. I mean… you can even see his freckles. And obviously he wears a leather jacket and rocks a pierced ear. Doody’s character, as was unfortunately prominent in 1980s storytelling, exists really only to further Taffin’s character development. But she’s suitably tough, independent, and drop dead gorgeous. Taffin isn’t a terribly deep film, so forgive me simply enjoying beautiful people looking beautiful.
The big character arc playing out amidst Taffin’s inevitable outsmarting of all the bad guys trying to build over the football pitch is his acceptance that he’s meant to be so much more than just a local debt collector. Everyone around him who cares about him seems really dedicated to pushing Taffin to be a bigger man. This is largely Charlotte’s only narrative function in the film, unfortunately, but there’s also a former teacher of Taffin’s who is interested in sparring intellectually with his former student in order to show the audience how learned our hero truly is.
There’s nothing particularly challenging or complex about Taffin, but it all goes down so smoothly and satisfyingly. It feels exactly like reading a Jack Reacher novel, where you know the hero is going to come out on top, and you know the villains are underestimating our hero, and that’s all part of the fun. While reinventing nothing, Taffin nevertheless manages to be a film I would gladly have welcomed as a trilogy or series of films, had things gone differently. It is apparently adapted from a series of novels, after all (by Lyndon Mallet). If cheering for an impossibly handsome hero to beat the bad guys at their own game and ride off into the sunset with the girl is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
And I’m Out.
Taffin hits Blu-ray from Kino Lorber on March 16th, 2021.