(Review originally written at 29 November 2008)

Man, what is it with 1989 Columbo movies? Perhaps it was because of the fact that the 1989 Columbo movies were the first ones to be made after an 11 year 'break' and they were still searching for the right out formula with some new 'modern' additions to it. But fact is that 1989 aren't really among the best Columbo movies, with some exceptions here and there though.

This one really isn't the most exciting or interesting Columbo movie to watch. Despite that the movie is set at a private civilian military think tank base, rarely ever something exciting is happening. The movie is progressing very slowly and some of the sequences are needlessly long and progressing in a lacking pace, without making enough contribution to the movie and its story. Columbo is hardly investigating anything and all he does is walking around, bugging all kinds of people. Everything he discovers and hears happened by chance and not necessarily always because of his investigation skills and tactics. Even though the movie features all of the usual Columbo movie ingredients it doesn't feel like an average Columbo movie because it just doesn't all get handled too well. This was Sam Wanamaker's last movie he directed during his career. He also directed the previous Columbo movie "Columbo: The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case", from 1977.

It's a sort of an unwritten rule for a Columbo movie that whenever Lt. Columbo himself shows up rather late into the story, the movie normally isn't going to be among the best the series has to offer. This is also the case with "Columbo: Grand Deceptions", in which Lt. Columbo shows up after about 20 minutes.

The movie also isn't helped much by its characters. Military characters are though ones to play as an actor, since they are all so very stereotypical. Only some really fine and talented actors can pull it off to make their characters still work out. This movie just doesn't feature any of these kind of actors unfortunately. Most later Columbo movies made the mistake not to cast some big well known and already established names in it. The movie is filled with some big unknowns who never really had a flourishing career, before or after this movie and for a good reason. Most actors play their roles well enough but it just isn't helping the movie to still make something special out of it all. There isn't really a good strong character opposite Lt. Columbo for this movie and some of the characters also makes a totally redundant impression, as do some of the plot-lines.

Besides, normally it's obvious from the beginning what the reasons and motivations for the killer were to come to his actions. In this movie however new things are getting revealed as the movie progresses. At times the movie even seems to forget that its a murder-mystery.

No, all in all the movie is not that horrible and it certainly also isn't the worst Columbo movie ever made but it however also is one of the least interesting Columbo movie entries to watch.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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