Best Seller (1987) is a modest but smartly-scripted thriller from 1987 that holds up remarkably well, thanks to a savvy original screenplay by Larry Cohen (who was better known at the time as a cagey creator of high-concept, low-budget exploitation films) and great casting.
James Woods once again brings charm to the role of a pathologically vindictive hitman who goes to a Joseph Wambaugh-like cop/author (Brian Dennehy) to expose his former employer. This narcissist wants to be the hero of his next book and Cohen gives Woods plenty to work with, from his great lines (which he delivers with the cocky grin and a predator’s confidence) to a peacock’s pride in his work. He cannily mixes social satire and genre twists in his clever screenplay of an unlikely friendship between two men with more history than they realize; his dialogue has a bite and an unforced wit that hovers somewhere between B-movie gangster dramas and buddy pictures.
It wasn’t a hit when it came out—director John Flynn was better with character than action and never really gets the blood pumping through it—but it is still a smart, lean thriller and a minor gem of the modern crime genre.