Ricochet was released in 1991 and directed by Russell Mulcahy (interestingly the same year he directed the infamous Highlander 2). The film sees Washington play Nick Styles, a cocky young beat cop who manages to arrest a notorious criminal called Blake (John Lithgow) purely by being at the right place and the right time. Flash forward seven years and Styles has worked his way up to become the Assistant DA and has a wife and two daughters. Meanwhile Blake has spent the whole time in prison, plotting his revenge. He makes a daring (and pretty unbelievable) escape and quickly sets about putting his plan in action. He's not going to kill Styles he's going to systematically destroy his life and those around him instead.
As I said before Washington is great in this, particularly the early scenes where he plays the younger version of his character. The scene in which he distracts Lithgow by taking off his clothes (...not as gay as it sounds) is expertly handled with some crackingly good dialogue. There's some also nice support from Kevin Pollak who plays Styles partner. Pollak's such a great character actor and always a welcome addition to any film. John Lithgow, I've seen play a villain twice before (in Buckaroo Banzai and Cliffhanger) but nothing prepared me for his performance here. He's deliriously unhinged as Blake and gets some very funny (and profane) one liners that will almost certainly make you laugh out loud.
Eighties action movies were always pretty crazy and silly, particularly those produced by Joel Silver such as Commando and Action Jackson. Heroes were almost bulletproof, Villains could do anything and with each successive film the plots got more and more unrealistic. Ricochet is probably where it reached breaking point. There's so many ridiculous plot developments and some of them are completely unnecessary. For instance did we really need a scene with Lithgow in the prison basement having a homemade sword fight with another prisoner, while they are both wearing books taped to their bodies like samurai armour. Probably not. If there's a complaint to be made about the film it that it didn't need to be so outlandish.
That said, you've got to love the fact that the film goes one step beyond. Anyone complaining that all action films nowadays are watered down PG-13 rubbish should go back and watch this. It should come as no surprise that the screenplay was written by Steven E De Souza, he of Die Hard fame (in fact he even re-uses the reporter character Gail Wallens from that earlier film presumably to tie both films into the same continuity!). There's some good twists and turns throughout the film and you could never call it dull. It's only towards the end, when Ice-T's lovable drug dealer character is re-introduced, that things start to get a little cliched and convoluted.
Also the story does get pretty dark in places, darker than I thought it would go but like all 80s films, everything is wrapped up and sorted out by the end. Ricochet is a breezy little flick that's perfect for late night viewing with your brain half switched off. The performances are uniformly great, the action is ridiculous and the story is gripping. What more could you ask for?