Alec Baldwin has had a solid career despite having a personal life that has been scrutinized in great deal in the tabloids. From scene stealing smaller parts in films like Married to the Mob and Glengarry Glen Ross to varied leading roles in films like The Hunt for Red October, Malice, and The Edge, he is always compelling in serious or comedic roles alike. But the first movie that really made me stand up and take notice of Baldwin was the 1990 George Armitage film Miami Blues.
Baldwin plays Junior Frenger, a small time con man who decides to start over after getting out of prison. After getting together with naïve prostitute Susie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and robbing a police detective named Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward) of his ID, badge and gun, Frenger starts a one man crime wave while masquerading as a cop and dodging the authorities. But his carelessness and violent outbursts have a heavy cost as Moseley gets closer and closer to catching him.
Miami Blues is about as dark a comedy thriller as it gets. Alec Baldwin is a jittery powder keg of untapped energy here and just explodes off the screen. He is funny as well, but there is an underlying sense of danger that Baldwin makes to apparent and so tangible, it really is an amazing performance. Leigh is good as the clueless prostitute but it almost seems like a role made for Juliette Lewis and her string of clueless rednecks in the 90s. And Fred Ward is his usual affable self. He is such a sad sack of a cop, but a cop with a good heart and not much else in his life, he is a determined cop who won’t let Frenger go but doesn’t always make the best decisions. All in all, Miami Blues is a dark movie with some genuinely funny moments and some genuinely disturbing moments, and a highlight of Alec Baldwin’s career. And the interviews included with Baldwin and Leigh are a great special feature, especially being almost 30 years later and about a movie that is not necessarily a well-remembered one in either of their careers. Definitely worth checking out and highly recommended.