The Racket tackles on a subject matter that can be rather confounding for unsuspecting viewers hoping to relish in a good old fashioned yarn about two tough guys having a blistering tête-à-tête from start to finish. Make no mistake, the battle between the film’s chief protagonist and antagonist does transpire, and the scenes in which both actors face off against each other explode with tension, only that director James Cromwell and the duo of screenwriters painstakingly depict nearly every aspect of municipal corruption they see fit in order to properly, if in somewhat convoluted fashion, present the facts of the case to the audience.
Director Wise was, in many ways, the Steven Soderbergh of his day. He could navigate virtually any film genre and produce a terrific final movie, one that understands the nooks and crannies of said genre’s tropes whilst clearly putting incredibly artistic stamps on them. Drama, crime thriller, sport (as in the case of the present film), science fiction, action, he could do it all, and do it with panache, deft and sensitivity.