Reynolds is charming, as usual, but his charm is a little lazier and more self-aware this time around, but his chemistry with Hutton is hot, and the movie as a whole isn’t too shabby, just a little disappointing after White Lightning.
Plot: Just released from prison, a bootleg runner is blackmailed into going undercover again, this time to root out a childhood friend who’s become a kingpin.
Review: Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) hasn’t been out of prison long when the FBI forces him to go undercover in a nearby county to see if he can get proof that an old childhood friend named McCall (Jerry Reed) is the kingpin everyone knows he is. They need proof – meaning, he’ll need to get some documents that show the numbers and names that McCall has been dealing with – and Gator agrees because it’ll keep his family safe from the feds. When he runs into McCall, a charming, but ruthless crime lord running hookers, involved in extortion, and murder, McCall takes a shine to him at first, but when he realizes Gator is working for the feds, he only gives him one chance to leave and never look back, but Gator is a pesky nuisance and riles the bear, putting him and his new girlfriend – a cute journalist (played by Lauren Hutton) – in the crosshairs of his henchman, a hulking giant named Bones just itching to break every bone in his body.
The sequel to the superior White Lightning, Gator is another solid star vehicle for its superstar, but its pacing and tone are a little wonky with a loose script, long, drawn-out scenes that feel a little out of place, and comedy bits that don’t really land the way they should. Some of the stunt work is nail biting, including some crazy speedboat chase stuff at the beginning, and then later a car crash on the beach that almost killed stuntman Hal Needham, which you can clearly see. Reynolds is charming, as usual, but his charm is a little lazier and more self-aware this time around, but his chemistry with Hutton is hot, and the movie as a whole isn’t too shabby, just a little disappointing after White Lightning. Reynolds made his directorial debut with this one, and it was a huge hit, propelling him forward on a trajectory that would have him becoming the biggest movie star in the world for a decade.
Kino Lorber’s reissue of Gator comes with a slipcover, a new audio commentary by two film historians, an on camera interview with Reynolds conducted in 2014, radio spots, and the trailer. The high definition transfer is solid and nothing to complain about.