1 August 2004 | insightstraight
I started to trade it off, but I had to keep it because I feared people wouldn't believe my description of it!
This movie sashays between an attempt at modern noir, an homage to film noir, and a parody of film noir.
I like Michael Biehn, but unfortunately his voice-over narration comes off rather flat. Some of the noir dialogue just falls on the floor and lies there -- I had to rewind to believe that I actually heard the line: "That was the thing that would send me into the darkness, squinting at clues."
Nick Cage's character is certainly a standout. I think the excesses of the character are supposed to be funny. However, Cage not only takes Eddie over the top but down the other side -- he chews up the scenery, digests it, and poops it out right there in front of you. For some reason he seems to think the character should always be on the edge of having a seizure. The cumulative effect for me is to flinch from the thought of ever again seeing him in a film. Really. Like aversion therapy. Say "Nick Cage" and I will think of him drooling and choose another film.
And the film suddenly veers off into an Italian James Bond rip-off! I thought for a moment they had gotten reels mixed up with another movie... In a stylish secret lair (behind a billiard parlor) we meet Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from "Phantasm") as "Dr. Lyme", the man obsessed with diamonds. Crystals are everywhere, his female henchmen are decked out in big blobby crystal jewelry, the furniture is designed with crystalline angles. He comes complete with a Dr. No suit, a Sidney Greenstreet growl, and -- get this! -- a metal arm with a sharp shiny lobster-claw hand! No fooling. My jaw dropped. At least he wasn't stroking a cat.
Throw in Charlie Sheen as a suave pool hustler, and Mickey Dolenz and Clarence Williams III (!) as sidekicks, and you have quite a stew. Peter Fonda looks like he is thinking about his shopping list. James Coburn (the primary reason I picked up the film) definitely classes things up, but we don't see enough of him.
This film isn't quite a train wreck, but it is something of a demolition derby. Between a bus, a sportscar, a taxi, and a motorcycle. And a kid on a tricycle.
I'm going to hang onto it for a while, just to share Angus Scrimm's scene with people. And to prove I didn't dream it.