The ’80s Crime Thriller Secret Gem With 100% On Rotten Tomatoes, And It Needs To Be Saved

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

The 1988 action thriller Shoot to Kill revolves around a tough FBI agent, Warren Stantin (Sidney Poitier), who teams up with a mountain guide, Jonathan Knox (Tom Berenger), to track down a killer in the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Northwest. Despite its picturesque cinematography and entertaining plot, the film is unavailable on any streaming services or Blu-ray.

Sidney Poitier Hunts A Killer

Shoot to Kill begins when a jeweler is caught breaking into his store. FBI agent Warren Stantin learns that the jeweler’s wife is being held by a ruthless extortionist, demanding the store’s diamonds for her release. A standoff at the jeweler’s home ends in bloodshed, leaving one person dead and Stantin fueled by an unrelenting determination to bring the criminal to justice.

Filled With 80s Icons

Stantin tracks the extortionist to Washington, where he discovers a mysterious murder with a signature detail – death by a shot to the eye. Convinced that the criminal has assumed a new identity, Stantin enlists the help of local fishing guide Sarah Rennell (Kirstie Alley) and her reluctant partner, Jonathan Knox, setting the stage for Shoot to Kill.

High-Stakes Showdown

As they travel through the mountainous forests, Knox’s initial reluctance turns into camaraderie as the pursuit brings them face to face with the ruthless killer, Steve (Clancy Brown). The plot thickens when Steve takes Sarah hostage, leading Stantin and Knox on a chase through Vancouver. Shoot to Kill culminates with a final high-stakes showdown, with Stantin and Knox risking everything to save Sarah.

A Perfect Critic Score

Shoot to Kill received mostly positive reviews upon its release. Critics praised the scenic cinematography and the performances of Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger. However, some detractors found the plot to be somewhat formulaic and predictable. Despite the minor criticism, the film still holds a perfect 100 percent critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, alongside a 64 percent audience score.

A Decent Box Office Hit

The film performed moderately well at the box office, earning around $29 million worldwide against its production budget of $15 million. Shoot to Kill opened with $5,781,628 in its first weekend in the US, which accounted for 19.7 percent of its total gross. While it may not have been a record-breaking success compared to other movies released then, its theatrical run was considered favorable.

Sidney Poitier’s Return To Cinema

Shoot to Kill, known as Deadly Pursuit in the UK and other territories, marked Sidney Poitier’s return to the big screen after a 10-year absence. The film is described as a genre movie in which the specifics hardly matter, so the formula of two characters with nothing in common linked together on a dangerous mission still works effectively.

Impossible to Stream But Not To Watch

Shoot to Kill was partially filmed in the stunning landscapes of British Columbia, Canada. The movie is directed by Roger Spottiswoode from a script by Harv Zimmel. While the film does not exist on any streaming platform, it can be found on old-school DVD formats (online and in stores), providing a nostalgic viewing experience for those seeking the thrill of the chase in the untamed terrains of the past.