Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Friends Can't Be Perfect
TRUE ROMANCE came out in 1993 I found myself not only loving the film for Tarantino’s script but the mix of that with the style Scott brought to it all that seemed absolutely right. As the years went on I continued to find myself admiring some of his films including CRIMSON TIDE, ENEMY OF THE STATE, with MAN ON FIRE in particular thrilling and undeniably powerful in its intensity, a huge step forward for him. Even going back to the very beginning of his feature career, some of the best moments in THE HUNGER remain vivid in my mind years after the last time I saw it. And UNSTOPPABLE, which turned out to be his last film, was an absolute blast and compelling in all the right ways. And then in August of this year the director left us through horrible means that remain baffling and truly sad. HUDSON HAWK earlier in the year but since that film has a villain who proclaims “I’m the villain” and THE LAST BOY SCOUT has a bad guy who announces “I am the bad guy” so maybe they’re not that different after all. Either way, Willis slips into Hallenbeck with every ounce of contempt for everyone oozing through his stubble with a bitterness going beyond his smirk, a decent guy who’s lost his faith in a cynical world where heroes don’t matter anymore. I can appreciate an action movie hero who looks at himself in the mirror and says, “Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You’re gonna lose.” Just like I do every single morning. He makes it work. He and Damon Wayans play off each other all right but never seem to fully click, maybe because Wayans doesn't quite have the right weight for the part. This time around I found myself wondering how this would have played with Eddie Murphy sticking to the Shane Black dialogue. Chelsea Field of Blake Edwards’ SKIN DEEP and Danielle Harris of HALLOWEEN 4 & 5 spar well with Willis as Hallenbeck’s wife and daughter, each seeming more than willing to get in his face with their insults, but of course they’re now overshadowed by Halle Berry as Jimmy’s ill-fated girl Cory who’s in and out in just a few scenes. She’s raw in some of her line readings, but looking absolutely gorgeous she’s already clearly got something. Taylor Negron oozes his way across the screen as ‘the bad guy’, pulling off just the right balance of making it seem like he’s enjoying playing the bad guy and making it genuinely seem like he’s thinking the most vicious thoughts imaginable. It’s also fun to see some of the familiar character actors who turn up throughout like Bruce McGill, Clarence Felder and Joe Santos as Hallenbeck’s cop nemesis. He isn’t playing his ROCKFORD FILES character but, even so, I’m not quite sure what the difference is.