Maybe Renny Harlin's best flick so far, this movie is a school book example of how to make a good popcorn action thriller.
A school teacher in the form of Harlin's wife at the time, Geena Davis, suffers from amnesia hires a small town private dec (Samuel L Jackson, a standard Harlin choice ever since) to investigate her past. Suddenly unconscious flashbacks start to reveal her violent past and the results her detective friends presents gets more and more curious. Finally the past catches up, when an assassination attempt at her is made at her home. Jackson & Davis continue an action packed adventure filled with things blowing up, guns blasting and knives flying, leading all the way to a secret CIA mission and the kidnapping of Davis' daughter.
The film is very well executed and acting is superb. Davis, at the time best known from Thelma & Louise and Fields of Glory, is a top notch choice as slightly the schizophrenic wimpy school teacher/coldblooded assassin. She carries out the role with grace and a lot of balls, and apart from many female action stars, this girl can actually act. Jackson is rarely a bad choice for anything, and even though his performance might not be worthy of an Oscar, he adds a second dimension to the film.
The script might be a bit cheesy at times, and uses every cliché in the action dictionary, but carries it out with style. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times, though the middle part is a bit dreary. The ending climax is a masterpiece of action filming. Let's hope Harlin's upcoming collaboration with Jackson is equally nice.
Made in 2000, Witchblade is a cheap TV-production trying to ride on the crest of the wave of comic book-related pictures.
Shortly, the plot line is this: Bitter police woman chases down very, very evil man who killed her father with the help of Joan of Arc's magic glove, that works more or less like Neo combined with Robocop. Well, that's about all you need to know.
Sadly, the film has very little to do with the actual comic book and you wonder how the publisher ever gave an OK to this script. It is predictable, flat, naive and seems conjured by a 14-year old boy.
"Starring" are a team of B-actors from the world of television. The role of police detective Sara Pezzini is played by Yancy Butler, who later went on to star in the disastrous TV-show of Witchblade, and has since been struggling for silver screen roles. Butler does the most of the horribly flat part, but it is not enough. A corny role like this requires an up yours-attitude and a wink towards the audience, and Butler simply does not deliver. Flanked by no-name TV personalities such as Anthony Cistaro and Conrad Dunn as a freakishly over acted bad guy she gets no help from her colleagues. Only Will Yun Lee as her partner has any craftsmanship as far as acting goes to offer.
The FX are cheap and out of place, the Witchblade itself is a disastrous piece of prop and the fight scenes are awkward.
One point comes from the fact that Yancy Butler actually does some effort to keep the film afloat, the second point is for some nice camera moves.
I honestly do not understand all the bad reviews of CTI! The film is a humorous action package, which is well done with fairly good action, lots of laughs, great FX and impressive stunts. The locations and costumes like straight from one of your old Errol Flynn or Burt Lancaster pirate films, as well as is the plot. Geena Davis in the lead runs around the Caribbean as a hard punching, back talking, drinking pirate, teaming up with ex boyfriend to go hunting for treasures. Follows a great adventure of love, cannons, ships, rum, cutlasses and lots of fun!
Yes, it's brain dead, yes it's unrealistic, yes it's pointless. So what? I like it! Avast ye miserable bilge rats! Swab the decks! Raise the main sail you no-good-dung heaps! And bring out me grog!
The Die Hard series counts among the few series with simply great movies in it, such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars or LOTR.
With a smash hit opening like Die Hard I, destroying it with a sequel is close at hand. But no, Renny Harlin delivers a tight and witty package of smoking guns, an intelligent plot, great stunts, hilarious one timers and some fairly good acting. It does not quite live up the claustrophobic feel of of the first film, nor the wits and charisma of the third blockbuster, but in no way is this a weak link.
The film is set in an airport and action takes place on baggage strips, on escalators, in basements, in venting shafts, on runways, on snow scooters and on the wing of an airplane. Former military man Colonel Stuart (William SAdler) hacks in to the control tower of an airport in Washington DC in a snowstorm and blackens all the runways, making all planes circle around in oblivion, waiting to run out of fuel and start falling out of the sky. The constant Unlucky Alf, or police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) of course finds that his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) is on one of these planes. When trying to take control of the situation he gets to take a truckload of crap from airport security captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz from NYPD Blue).
So follows a race against time in all places imaginable on an airport with deceits, lies, killings, crashing planes, bombs and a lot of masculine boasting. Bruce Willis cements his character as the well-meaning, but take-no-crap-officer McClane in this movie and is backed up with great acting from obnoxious reporter William Atherton, Franz and Art Evans. Many later famous actors do very small roles as henchmen, pilots or other killing crew in the movie, most notably Robert Patrick, who's next role would spring him to fame in the role as T-1000 in Terminator 2, but also renowned actors as John Leguizamo, Don Harvey, Tom Verica and Robert Martin Steinberg. A big chunk on the downside is that Sadler isn't really doesn't convince as the bad guy of the movie, he is too casual.
OK, so Freddy is back, never mind how, that's rarely the point in these kind of flicks. Back too is Kirsten, the girl with Freddy in her dreams. Sadly though, amazing Patricia Arquette from the previous movie has been replaced by horribly bad actress Tuesday Knight. The plot is simple enough: Freddy returns to kill all the teenagers he can get his hands on, including the three remaining kids of N:o 3. When Kirsten dies her ability to draw other people into her dreams pass on to another girl, who of course gets all her friends killed and, naturally, kills Freddy in the end.
Nevertheless, this film is the commercially most successful film in the Nightmare series, so you'd think there'd be at least some dots of light. And there are.
The directing is very nice from a strictly technical point of view. Director Renny Harlin is a master camera operator and knows his special effects. There are some fairly original killings in this one, such as being trapped in your water bed and being turned into a cockroach. For the 80:ies standard, the FX are well executed and some of the scenes are very pleasing to the eye. Robert Englund as Freddy is, as always, brilliant. This time he gets the opportunity to be really sadistic and humorous.
Sadly, this is where the positive adjectives stop. I frankly didn't have the power to watch the movie to the end. It was simply too boring. The actors are all disastrously bad. There is not a single glimpse of light among the cast, and this is the true horror of the film. The characters are pointless and flat, which doesn't help. The plot is obvious and has very little to offer in the way of suspense and the film is in no way scary. It just isn't enough to have a creepy villain who kills people, no matter how good he is (I don't care how many teens he kills, Freddy does save this film). There has to be more to a thriller/scary movie than that. First and foremost, it needs a main character to whom you can relate. You don't kill the star (well...) of the film halfway through and replace her with another character unless you can be 100 % sure that the film holds up to an anticlimax like this.
NOES have never been the cream of the crop movie-wise, and this sequel (although a success) does not help.
3 out of 10, not a disaster, but incredibly dreary.
Born American/Arctic Heat (any which way you like it) is a pretty nice English-language directing debut from Finlands gift to Hollywood, Renny Harlin.
SPOILER WARNING! The story evolves around three American boys hiking in Finnish Lapland. In a jestful mood they find themselves entering the Soviet Union illegally, just to be accused of killing a young village girl, get in a fight, burn down a village, kill a priest and a couple of Russian soldiers. Of course the KGB gets their hands on the boys, who are then locked and buried in a Dante'esquire prison in Siberia, where they will learn the true meaning of suffering.
The film is no ground breaker in any sense, the plot is quite predictable, the acting varies in standard and the overall execution is very low budget. Nevertheless, the film provides some high tension, a sympathetic tale of friendship and a very creepy, dark and suggestive feeling of claustrophobia. The film is shot in Finland, using Finnish actors as Russians, providing very believable characters, who actually (as opposed to many American movies of that era) speak Russian!
The young American guys are unfortunately a setup of B- or even C-actors, even though Mike Norris in the leading role does step up a notch towards the end of the film. David Coburn does exactly what he is supposed to, without a single hint of charisma or artistic integrity and Steve Durham's performance is just sad. American veteran Thalmus Rasulala provides some stiff and wooden acting as the mysterious Admiral, general of the inmates. The truly original performances are provided by the Finnish actors, many of them among the elite in their home country. Especially haunting is the portrait of the well-meaning and haunted chess genius Kapsky, played by master actor Vesa Vierikko.
All in all, an adequate international debut from Harlin. Some plot lines could have been developed further, it looks a bit as if the crew ran out of money (or imagination) somewhere along the production. Anyone who is looking for a glimpse of what Siberian prisons really looked like during the Soviet era will be disappointed, this is pure fiction. Harlin already shows his great visual skills, both as a camera operator and as a special effects expert. Sadly, the script is a bit too thin and even a bit corny at times and the lack of funding shows.
This flick is Mr Harlins first (and best) collaboration with Sly Stallone, and a fairly good one, too.
Stallone does one of his better performances and it is fun seeing John Lithgow (best known for his goofy character in the TV-series 3rd rock from the sun) as a ruthless bad-ass killer.
Cliffhanger is very well executed, delivers some good performance and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole movie. There is no message or philosophy in this one, it is a straightforward (or perhaps straight downward...) bang bang hang hang action reel. The script is a bit thin at times, but hey, just how much can you ask for?