The pairing of director Tony Scott ("Top Gun"), producer Joel Silver ("Lethal Weapon" and "Die Hard", among others), and screenwriter Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon", "Long Kiss Goodnight") led to one of the most brutal action films of it's time. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert gave it three stars, but not without citing it's misogynistic and degrading qualities. True enough, it's not a pretty picture: people are beaten, shot, and maimed in all sorts of ways; women are slapped around and degraded; a 13-year old girl cusses, is cussed at, has a gun pointed at her temple by her own father, and is put in the path of thugs.
Despite all that, I enjoy watching the film, but not for any of the above qualities. The movie has an energy and a chemistry between the two leads (Willis and Wayans) that is missing from most action films. Shane Black's screenplay is full of hilarious gems (see the "Quotes" section.) There's a freeway scene where our heroes attempt to alert someone of a bomb. Wayans pulls out a pen and paper and draws a picture. Willis replied, "That doesn't look like a bomb; it looks like an apple with lines coming out of it! They're gonna say don't open the briefcase, it's full of fresh fruit!" Wayans spells out B-O-M, and shows the paper to the person they're after, only to have the person fire a shot at them. Willis replies, "I meant to tell you: bomb means 'f**k you' in Polish." It's a scene that represents the comic timing of the film.
Of course, the nastiness of the film is what most remember about it. There's a good amount of foul language and an even greater amount of graphic violence (the villain meets a really gruesome end.) And of course, women aren't spared in this one. The relationship between Willis and his estranged wife is one of friction: when he catches his best friend with her, he pulls out a gun and shoots, hitting their wedding photo. And at the end, as the two reunite, he embraces her and whispers profanity in her ear; not the most loving sentiment.
The bottom line: this isn't really a film for the faint of heart. It's a rough film, as it almost should be. The easily offended might consider something lighter and fluffier. All others might consider giving this film a shot.
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