For quite some time, Final Justice actually held the top slot in the IMDb Bottom 100. Personally, I don’t think this is anywhere near the worst movie in the Bottom 100. The plot is repetitive, Joe Don Baker is far from an inspiring lead, and there are some moments of really poor editing in the movie. All of that considered though, this is definitely a watchable movie. The pacing slows down quite a bit in the middle, but it doesn’t drag in the way in The Starfighters or Devil Fish do, and it isn’t as incompetently composed as Birdemic. I am at a loss as to how it was propelled to the #1 position for so long.
The writing for the movie isn’t good, but it didn’t stand out all that much. Something that definitely does stand out is the somewhat shoehorned setting of the movie in Malta. Honestly, I think that the Malta setting was written in as an excuse for the crew to film in an exotic location. It seems like an odd choice to me though, and not your typical fish-out-of-water setup. In any case, the audience gets to see quite a bit of Malta for better or worse.
The plot follows a Texas Sheriff named “Thomas Jefferson Geronimo” (Joe Don Baker) as he is escorting a captured criminal overseas. Do to some mistake, the criminal gets free during a stop over in Malta. Baker’s character then spends the rest of the movie trying to track down the criminal across the island, while repeatedly annoying the local Maltese police. That is pretty much the extent of the movie: it is unquestionably a Joe Don Baker vehicle, and none of the other actors stand out at all. I would go so far as to assume that a good number of the accessory cast members are local Maltese folk who were roped into the filming, but I haven’t been able to dig up much information on the movie at all to confirm any of my suspicions.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Final Justice. The fish out of water concept works pretty well in a comedy setting, but throwing it into a crime drama just strikes me as odd. Beverly Hills Cop managed to use the concept in a hybrid crime drama/comedy, but it relied pretty heavily on Eddie Murphy’s abilities to make it work. Joe Don Baker doesn’t have the same wit or presence as Murphy, nor is the writing for Final Justice comparable to Beverly Hills Cop. Hell, it isn’t even comparable to The Golden Child. That said, this might have been an interesting movie if there had been a better comedic focus on the culture shock between Texas and Malta, or if they had just ignored it entirely. As it stands, the writing just half-heartedly pokes at the differences in the cultures. Doing it half-way just doesn’t cut it, and makes the movie less focused and distracted overall.
As mentioned previously, there were a number of editing goofs throughout the movie. I think the whole movie could have used a little more hacking from another set of eyes, but it may have been too much of a jumbled mess to save. Surprisingly, the editor of this movie is still working today in television and film alike, and has some pretty big credits to his name now (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks). Color me surprised.
I’m not sure how strongly I can recommend Final Justice. There is a lot of repetitiveness in the plot, which really makes most of the movie a dull experience to sit through. Even the MST3K treatment does a bit of joke retreading, but it does improve the overall experience without any doubt. The only thing that I can strongly recommend about the movie is the awesome theme song. Give that a good listen and you are probably set for this one.
If you are interested in a Joe Don Baker shitty movie showcase, I’d recommend watching Mitchell instead of this. I think there is bit more enjoyment to get out of that movie, and his character is way more over the top than “Thomas Jefferson Geronimo”.