What the Hell Was Sam Elliott Trying to Do in “Shakedown”?

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Sam Elliott and Peter Weller driving the mean streets of … whatever city that portrait behind them is supposed to represent in “Shakedown.”

Kevin: If you are a fan of action movies you are used to the heroes coming up with wildly improbable plans for defeating the bad guys and then amazingly succeeding every time. Who could forget Riggs taking an entire mansion off its stilts with just his truck in “Lethal Weapon 2”? Or Schwarzenegger defeating an entire army single-handedly in “Commando”? Or Carl Weathers driving a luxury car through Craig T. Nelson’s house in “Action Jackson”? Or Steven Seagal blowing up an oil rig in order to, uh, keep it from blowing up later I guess in “On Deadly Ground”?

However, in the insane plan department, none of these guys can hold a candle to Sam Elliott in 1988’s “Shakedown”:

You can be forgiven if you haven’t even heard of “Shakedown,” in which Elliott and Peter Weller play a cop and prosecutor, respectively, who team up to take down corrupt cops who are working with a drug lord played by Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas. The movie itself is mildly diverting but not nearly as memorable as you would hope for something that partners Robocop with Wade Garrett, but once you’ve seen it you will certainly never forget the absolutely nutso strategy Elliott deploys at the end to keep the bad guys from making their escape by private plane:

Let’s just break down Elliott’s plan here because I still can’t believe what I just saw:

1) Chase down the plane in a Porsche and grab on to the front wheel as it is taking off.

2) Hang on while the plane is in flight and shoot out the hydraulics to keep the wheel from retracting.

3) Shoot out one of the plane’s engines, forcing it to essentially attempt a crash landing (note that he does this while the plane is flying over downtown Manhattan, causing it to almost hit the World Trade Center!).

4) Pop a grenade and throw it into the plane as it is turning back to the runway.

5) Know that he has enough time before the grenade goes off to wait until the plane is close enough to the water for him to safely jump before it blows up upon landing.

6) Manage to land in the exact right spot for Weller to pick him back up.

And holy crap, give it up for Sam because somehow it all worked perfectly! I doubt when Weller watched him fly off hanging on to that plane he figured he’d ever see him in one piece again, but that’s why he’s Sam Elliott and we’re not. But maybe it’s a good thing they never made a sequel to “Shakedown,” because I can’t imagine how Sam could top that airborne insanity, and I’d be too scared to watch him try. There are plenty of mediocre crime thrillers, but there’s only one Sam Elliott, and we can’t afford to lose him.

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Sam Elliott, doing what many of us have wanted to do to Whoopi Goldberg after two decades of “The View.”

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