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Film: Final Justice

"The story of a large sweaty man who goes to Malta to sweat."
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Final Justice is a 1984 movie directed by Greydon Clark and starring Joe Don Baker.

One dark and stormy night, Palermo and his brother Tony, two mob hitmen, are blundering around South Texas trying to get across the border to escape the heat from their last job in Dallas. They end up gratuitously shooting a motorist they crash into; then, needing wheels, they decide to try hotwiring a police car in front of a police station. Of course, they're discovered, but they manage to kill the sheriff of the town. His deputy sheriff, Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III, chases them all the way to and across the Mexican border, where he kills the younger mobster for trying to pull a gun. Palermo, outraged at his brother's death, swears vengeance on Geronimo, but refuses to rise to the challenge of a showdown; instead, Geronimo just knocks Palermo out and drags him back.

Well, for some reason Geronimo is asked to escort Palermo back to Sicily as a publicity stunt. Of course, this is all part of an Evil Plan, as the mafia's already arranged to fake a malfunction on their flight that requires an emergency landing, bringing Geronimo and Palermo to Malta instead. There, operatives are ready to help Palermo get free. The Maltese police, led by Superindendent Mifsud, are adamant that Geronimo stay out of the case and let them handle it as he is well out of his jurisdiction. But neither Geronimo nor Palermo are willing to just let it end like this...

The rest of the movie is essentially repeating the same sequences over and over.

  1. Geromino is told not to go after Palermo by Superintendent Mifsud.
  2. Geronimo ignores him and chases him down.
  3. Geronimo causes a major disturbance that usually involves a length chase sequence (two of which are on speed boats.)
  4. Geronimo is arrested.
  5. Geronimo is escorted from his prison cell to speak with Superindendent Mifsud.
  6. Return to Step 1.

Rinse and repeat until Geronimo finally gets his man and the credits roll.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode see here.


This film contains the following tropes:

  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Palermo has Maria hostage at gunpoint and threatens Geronimo with "I'll blow her brains OUT!"
  • Action Girl: Maria, in an upgrade from nearly Neutral Female.
  • Anti-Hero: Geronimo openly disdains the idea of legal protections for suspects and pretty much just shoots people for the hell of it.
  • Arson Murder And Life Saving: Geronimo's modus operandi - he pretty much ignores any and all laws or safety and just opens fire on "bad guys" (his words.) Even shooting into crowds of unarmed civilians. At the same time he is trying to catch a dangerous psychopath, and he does try to help people when he can.
  • Artistic License - Geography: The flight from America to Sicily gets rerouted to Malta. Which is farther south and (depending on where they were headed) farther east.
  • Artistic License - Law: Par for the course for a Dirty Harry ripoff, but why in Sweet Jesus wasn't Geronimo deported immediately, especially after he's threatening to seriously maim your citizens? He'd be out of his jurisdiction in a different county, much less a different country - across the Atlantic ocean. The movie does show that the Maltese authorities are trying to get him off the island as quickly as possible (and the irregular flights out of Malta don't help), but he's largely allowed to roam free - to the point where his "jail cell" is a revolving door using the same stock footage of him being escorted out of the cell over and over again.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Thomas Jefferson Geronimo. The Third.
  • Badass Boast / Catch Phrase: "You think you can take me? Go 'head on. It's your move!"
    You better run
    While you can.
    You've crossed the maddest guy,
    His gun in hand.
    You better run
    While you can.
    Cause he won't stop till he gets his man.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Geronimo's dealings with the Malta police are in a class of their own.
  • Bad Habits: Palermo attempts to hide out in a church by wearing a priest's robe, but gets caught when a woman seeking confession keeps him around so long he's quickly spotted.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Palermo murders innocents for little to no reason and (in the uncut version of the film) forces himself on at least one woman. Geronimo kills suspects he could have just as easily arrested and has no problem firing wildly into a crowd in an attempt to shoot an enemy. This was apparently unintentional - we're supposed to think of Geronimo as pure good, but it just doesn't work.
  • Bowdlerization: The TV print used for the MST3K episode not only uses Curse Cut Short and Pixellation to tone down the language and nudity, but it's also missing a rather brutal rape scene of Palermo against the blonde dancer. This turns into a bit of a plot hole as it explains why the dancer is both frightened of Palermo and willing to switch sides when Geronimo promises to keep her safe.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Geronimo. It's quite an experience to make you actually start to pity a Jerk Ass Cowboy Cop with a case of Plot-Induced Stupidity.
  • Car Chase: One right at the end of the film's first act, when Palermo escapes custody. And for a bonus, there's not one, but two boat chases in the second act.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Geronimo subverts his catch phrase at the end by cutting it short and blasting the main villain in the head as he's distracted. Quote Servo: "Our hero; a big, stinky cheater!"
  • Confessional: A fugitive tries to evade cop Joe Don by dressing as a priest. It might have worked, except a distraught old woman then begged him to hear her confession. He attempts to get it over with ("Sure... whatever you want") only to draw more attention to himself.
  • Cowboy Cop: Literally! He pretty much just shoots suspects for the hell of it, and his backstory is that he got bumped to a piddly out of nowhere sherriff's office because of him shooting the brother of a Senator. Most of the movie is him chasing down Palermo and causing numerous fatalities in the process. Oh, and he's wearing a ridiculous cowboy suit for the entire movie. Even so, Geronimo has the nerve to be offended when a friendly cab driver jokes about him knowing John Wayne.
  • Creator Cameo: Greydon Clark as the sheriff with a case of Retirony.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the TV print "son of a bitch" has the last word wiped.
  • Determinator: What Geronimo lacks in grace, skill, intelligence, talent, physical fitness, looks and likability, he almost makes up for with his bull-stubborn determination to solve the case when both the Maltese and American law enforcement forbid him to do so. Almost.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: According to Geronimo's sherrif, donuts are Geronimo's Trademark Favorite Food and the source of his weight problem.
  • The Faceless: For some reason the movie goes out of its way to avoid showing the face of Wilson's lady friend.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Accounts for at least two of Geronimo's failures.
  • Failure Hero: Geronimo. It really undermines your movie's hero's effectiveness when you show him getting thrown into jail again, and again, and again. Not only that, but Geronimo essentially fails every task and objective given to him, except for the last seven minutes of the movie.
  • Fair Cop: Maria is unusually attractive for a police officer (and especially compared to her hideous co-workers.)
  • Fatal Family Photo: Results in a case of Retirony for Geronimo's partner!
  • Follow the Leader: Dirty Harry, Walking Tallnote , and Mitchell, all wrapped into one putrid package.
  • Genre Savvy: Don Lamanna, though it doesn't do him any good because his chief stooge Palermo is utterly Genre Blind.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: "That's pronounced 'Hey-ronimo'." Eventually Geronimo stops bothering to correct people, though.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Geronimo tries to find out where Palermo is by dunking the bartender's head in a fish tank.
  • Jerk Ass: Sheriff Geronimo makes Mitchell look like a big, cuddly Teddy Bear. He's sexist, a bully, occasionally rock stupid, and he looks like three hundred pounds of cottage cheese in an oilskin bag. But he's treated like the Only Sane Man by the film.
  • Lawful Stupid: Mifsud clearly wants Geronimo out of his hair and Palermo in jail, but is clearly too wimpy to do either effectively. It takes him several times of Geronimo going on a shooting rampage before he finally locks Geronimo in a cell for good, but then he only posts one guard and Maria simply pulls a gun on the cop to break Geronimo out.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Despite being billed as an expert hitman, Palermo's first response to any minor set back is to pull a gun and shoot somebody dead, which is what brought the heat on him to begin with.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Geronimo is an actual descendant of the Geronimo, but his first and middle names are "Thomas Jefferson".
    • Palermo is also the name of a city in Sicily.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Geronimo is trapped in the Big Bad's dungeon, so naturally he draws on his Native American ancestry and appears to communicate telepathically with a woman he met earlier, who then comes and frees him.
  • Noodle Incident: How Geronimo got booted out of Dallas is not elaborated on, but it apparently involved a senator's brother.
  • No One Could Survive That: Geronimo appears to die on a boat and Palermo leaves him for dead. As it turns out, he actually just washed up on shore and was nursed back to health.
  • Pixellation: The TV prints put an obvious blur over the chest of the two strippers in the tavern (with the red-clothed dancer getting it most of the time).
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The uncut version of the film includes a brutal rape sequence in which Palermo forces himself on the same stripper that later turns on him and breaks Geronimo out.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Geronimo, before the beginning of the story, was booted out of Dallas and reassigned to a hole in the wall sheriff's office near the border.
  • Spanner in the Works: Geronimo is supposed to be a patsy to ensure Palermo's easy escape, but because he simply won't let the guy go, he ultimately undoes the entire mob operation in Malta.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Don Lamanna as he chastises Palermo for abducting Geronimo but not killing him, leaving him in the mansion's basement. Guess what happens! Palermo tries to justify his decision by saying he wants to make Geronimo squirm, but this is still an idiotic move on his part.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Geronimo's planned role in breaking Palermo out, since he's clearly not qualified to escort a prisoner.

Escape 2000Mystery Science Index 3000 The Final Sacrifice
The Evil That Men DoFilms of the 1980sFirestarter

alternative title(s): Final Justice
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