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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Happy New Year

The January Man on IMDb

Plot Overview

Two Years ago the NYPD was mired in scandal until Police Commis­sioner Frank Starkey (Harvey Keitel) sacrificed his brother Lt. Nick Starkey (Kevin Kline) as a fall guy to cover for the graft involving Frank him­self and Mayor Eamon Flynn (Rod Steiger.) There was no solid proof and Nick could have fought it, but he resigned for the good of the department. He has since become a decorated fire­man. To add insult to injury Frank married Nick's girl­friend Christine (Susan Sarandon.)


A serial strangler has had New York's womenfolk cowering in fear for the past year, and there's no-one smart enough to catch him except Nick with his unconventional methods. Commis­sioner Starkey is forced to reinstate him against the vigorous protest of police Captain Vincent Alcoa (Danny Aiello) who pegs him as a beatnik. Frank had to accept one condition from Nick, that he be allowed to cook dinner for Frank's wife. This should prove interesting.

boy and girl on computerAs Nick's on the verge of capturing the strangler they prematurely take him off the case, but he continues on his own. They took away his gun but he has exchanged his fire­man's axe for a sledge hammer, enrolled his neighbor Ed (Alan Rickman) a computer whiz to suss out the killer's pattern(s), and tapped beautiful Berna­dette Flynn (Mary Elizabeth Mastran­tonio) the mayor's daughter to sing the killer's tune.


The movie opens with the (New Year's) globe about to drop on Times Square, the killer strangling heiress Alison Hawkins (Faye Grant) in her suite, and then fire­man Nick making some kind of play for his sister-in-law in his apartment. There's a lot of baggage to toss out with the old year, with hope for a better future (“In a hundred years we'll all be dead.”) January portends dealing with major issues along the lines of author John Fowles:

A friend of mine once maintained that there is a class of experiences we should all have had before death if we wish to claim we had lived fully. Believing one was certain to be drowned was an example. Being caught in bed—all this took place at a not very serious dinner party—with some­one else's wife was another; seeing a ghost was a third, and killing another human being a fourth. (146)

In TJM we're treated to such a class to leave behind us. We have parties certain to suffocate and/or be strangled. We have Nick the man coveting his brother's wife. We have fire­man Nick emerging w/a rescue from an inferno whom Fire Chief Sunday (Errol Slue) thought was a goner. And we have a dozen or so murders committed by a crafty villain & a copycat. Since Christine seems to have purloined the evidence of the graft that started this whole schmear, and is now about to own up or some­thing, we'll do as the French flics, “Cherchez la femme.”

It's up for grabs how their romantic misadventure will pan out for the thwarted couple, but that's nothing new. (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The writer of this proverb juxtaposed three hard-to-track move­ments with romantic intrigues: a soaring eagle, a slithering snake, and a tossed-about ship. TJM employs images from the same three venues to prepare the viewer for unanticipated love machinations. “The way of an eagle in the air” corresponds to the ball hanging above Times Square, about to drop. The tension is palpable, but the event is precisely scheduled as is the strangler's next victim, and Nick is onto him.

Cupid's dart“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corres­ponds to Nick having tailed his witness Berna­dette to the ice rink, donned skates to keep her close, and then falling down in front of her, soon falls for her.

“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to Alison's tête-à-tête with her fishes in her home aquarium. There are plenty of fish in the sea. It's time for Nick to move on.

Production Values

” (1989) was directed by Pat O'Connor. It was written by John Patrick Shanley. It stars Kevin Kline, Mary Elizabeth Mastran­tonio and Susan Sarandon. These actors were good, as were the rest, but they were upstaged by an existential plot. Kevin Kline and Harvey Keitel were mismatched as brothers, having different body types and anti­thetical temperaments.

The movie is rated R. The action from fire fighting to rassling seemed realistic. No shootouts or car chases occurred. Appropriately tense music ran through­out, with Neil Sedaka's familiar “Calendar Girl” thrown in for good measure. Runtime is 1 hour 37 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Sexual sin was acknowledged as such while not always avoided. A Cardinal had a prominent place reserved for him at a press conference with Bible references and staged piety. A somber funeral service was held in a church. These Christian trappings don't make this a faith-based movie, nor does it pretend to be one.

“The January Man” is pretty offbeat, while being a pensive crime thriller, too. It avoids a formulaic plot. It's suitable for budding, mystery aficionados.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Fowles, John. The Ebony Tower. Copyright © 1974 by J.R. Fowles Limited. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974. First Edition. Print.