Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Film Review: BROKEN ARROW (1996, John Woo)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 108 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Delroy Lindo, Samantha Mathis, Frank Whaley (of PULP FICTION and GLAM), Howie Long (of those delightful ads with Teri Hatcher), Hans Zimmer (whose soundtrack for this flick is vaguely ripped off by Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR soundtrack), Graham Yost (writer of SPEED whose career was later derailed by SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL and co-writing the brilliant MISSION TO MARS), Peter Levy (the fine cinematographer from PREDATOR 2 and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5), Mark Riccardi (Travolta's 90's & 00's stunt double on everything from GET SHORTY to BATTLEFIELD EARTH), plus we even got the Dad from THAT 70'S SHOW and RAMBO III (Kurtwood Smith).
Best one-liner(s): "Alright, you're bleeding, aren't ya? Well, that's good. Let's see if we can get any more out of you."

"You're out of your mind." "Yeah...ain't it cool?" Damn. Look at that poster. Slater wants to be in the limelight, but Travolta is having none of it. This is causing Slater to slightly raise his right eyebrow. More on that later. John Woo comes stateside for the second time, the first being HARD TARGET with Van Damme. Let's look at the Woo hallmarks: Slow motion? Check. Hero firing two guns at once and sliding downward? Check. Gun slowly being loaded in closeup? Check. Hero seeing the reflection of the baddie aiming a gun at him? Check. Two well-developed characters clashing with great determination? Check. Mexican standoff? Check. The Slater factor? Check. Wait, WHUTTT?!

You can't believe your ears? The SLATER FACTOR. Yeah, that's right. The Slater factor is very high here. The eyebrows and smarmy Nicholson voice are in full force. But what comes out of left field is Travolta stealing a great deal of the limelight from the Slater factor.

He's developed one of the most bizarrely gleeful, subtly feminized, and totally whacky antagonists to ever appear in one of these types of films. The man is having so much fun playing a villain and finally getting to sling about malevolent one-liners that you can't help but smile every moment he's on screen.

In fact, either Travolta or Slater are on screen for almost every frame of the entire movie, so the odds are the viewer will be beside themselves with youthful giddiness for the duration. Throw in a brilliant Hans Zimmer soundtrack, chemistry with ex-Slater PUMP UP THE VOLUME-era squeeze Samantha Mathis (Mathis later said that being romantic with Slater in this film was "like kissing your brother"), beautiful Southwestern landscapes, and the under-appreciated Delroy Lindo, and you've got yourself a splendid little way to spend the afternoon.

-Sean Gill


Tempest said...

The Samantha Mathis quote about being romantic with Christian cracks me up each time. This movie is decent, but not one I would purchase--just not my kind of film. Maybe I should not write this, but this was Christian's last box office hit. Most of his films since Hard Rain have been DTV which is too bad as he has done some great ones in more recent years--He Was A Quiet Man.

Tempest said...

P.S. I wonder how Christian felt about Mathis' comment. She is pretty open about her personal life with the press, which is very rare for most actors.

Sean Gill said...

Yeah, I suppose Slater's box office prestige has been on the decline- I keep hearing about new projects that he's involved in (like last year's DOLAN'S CADILLAC based on the excellent Stephen King story) and I'll think- wow, this could be something of a comeback- only to find out, later on, that it ended up being DTV with no theatrical release.

Perhaps the forthcoming SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE (with Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Dominic Monaghan, James Cromwell, and Freddy Rodriguez) will give his career an EXPENDABLES-style shot in the arm...or maybe it will end up DTV. You never know.

Tempest said...

Let's keep our fingers crossed that he gets that much-needed shot in the arm!