Directed by Simon Wincer
This came at a time when Mickey Rourke needed a paycheck and Don Johnson needed an image change. Mickey got his paycheck. Don Johnson wasn’t so lucky. Even Nash Bridges and his role in Django Unchained didn’t do squat to change his image. He will always be Sonny Crocket no matter what.
In the near future, Harley Davidson (Mickey Rourke) and his friend the Marlboro Man/Robert Lee Anderson (Don Johnson) are two individuals of questionable morality. They’re not necessarily bad guys but they’re not necessarily good people either. Their favorite hangout spot-a place they feel that saved them and is like home called The Rock N’ Roll Bar & Grille-is going to be shut down by a corrupt bank because of an unfair lease.
They come up with the idea to rob an armored car with few friends from the bar. The heist goes pretty well even though some guys that look like they got their wardrobe from the Matrix show up. Unfortunately, Harley and Marlboro and friends didn’t steal money but rather a shipment of a new drug called Crystal Dream. It’s instantly addictive and causes visual hallucinations. Makes the world look like a better place. It also has a nasty side effect of causing neurological damage and killing one in seven.
I love the movie but it’s not without its flaws. It looks great and is pretty well directed but the acting is a little underwhelming and there are too many side characters that go nowhere. You could’ve trimmed some of the extra characters and told the same story. The character of Lulu (played by Vanessa Williams) for example was rather pointless. She added nothing to the story and her character could’ve been completely removed without affecting anything. Her sole purpose was to create a problem between Harley and Jack Daniels (Big John Studd) for use in one scene.
And that brings me to something else. There was a fairly eclectic and talented cast at the beginning of this film. Some of them were just starting their careers (Giancarlo Esposito) while others were towards the end (Big John Studd). And the majority were on the screen for only moments. They got killed off pretty early in the story. It’s quite a waste even if their characters weren’t main characters.
Despite being set in the near future there isn’t much in the way of science fiction in this film. There’s no flying cars or weird guns. The Matrix-style clothing that the villains wear and Burbank being an airport are the only real indications. I don’t need my indications of future time to be heavy handed but here it’s barely a thought. The future setting is more of an excuse to have the new street drug as part of the plot than anything else. And for a mostly mindless action romp that’s good enough.
This movie is a fun and over the top buddy action film. It’s one last attempt to do the type of action movie that they did during the 80s. And it gets it so very right. It has that same spirit and vibe. It’s got the over the top action and the corny jokes coupled with the one-liners and some shallow introspection by the characters of themselves. Much like its 80s predecessors, it’s short on logic and light on plot. You’re watching a movie like this for enjoyment and not to feed your intellect.
Johnson and Rourke are both very good actors. They make their characters sympathetic and likeable even though both are essentially a-holes. These are two guys that irritate you, but you’d still have a drink and might even pull up a stool next to at the bar they’re trying to save.
One thing I love is that the movie drips with testosterone. It’s not something that happens much these days and was rapidly on the way out back then. There is a liberal amount of gun play in this movie. It’s almost casual. There’s even an armed helicopter that despite its heavy firepower only kills two unnamed characters. It’s reminiscent of the A-Team television series in that respect. It’s a movie made for guys and it doesn’t apologize for that.
This movie is cinematic junk food and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need a good snack instead of a nutritious meal. And this is definitely a good snack. If you want to spend a fun two hours, then this movie is for you. Don’t think too deeply and leave your brain at the door. Just sit back and enjoy the movie. You won’t regret it.