Friday, February 4, 2011

Broken Arrow (1996)

Starring: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis
Director: John Woo

Bet I can get through this whole review without making a Scientology joke...

The movie is about two Air Force pilots, Vic "Deak" Deakins and Riley Hale, played by John Travolta and Christian Slater respectively. On a training mission, Deakins turns on Hale, hijacks the plane, leaving two nuclear weapons in the desert. It turns out that he has secretly agreed to deliver the weapons to a terrorist organization. It is now up to Hale and others to stop him.

The plot of the film itself is decent enough, but the characters quickly drive it into the ground. I am not a big fan of John Travolta's acting, but he is usually pretty good when he plays the villain. This is not one of those occasions. He does not posses the sort of charisma or maniacal tendency that would normally fit this type of character. He just kind of comes off as a dick. For instance, at the beginning of the movie, Deakins and Hale have a (weirdly-shot) boxing match and afterward Deakins explains that he was able to win because Hale doesn't have the guts to really assert himself. This becomes a central theme of the movie even though there is no indication that Hale is in anyway like that. Even Hale doesn't even seem to take him that seriously, though to be fair that may just be Christian Slater's acting, or lack there of.

I am not even sure if Deakins is really that smart either. Officially, his reasons for going all Benedict Arnold on everyone is for the money, but according to Riley, a large part of it has to do with the fact that he has been denied a number of promotions due to his smart-ass behavior. Gee, maybe if he, I don't know, didn't act like a dick to everyone he comes across he wouldn't have to betray his country and risk millions of lives in the process! And he doesn't even come off as being an insanely evil person with a twisted sense of justice; he is just an selfish asshole who is trying to screw people over! On top of all that, he makes tactical mistakes as well: he is certain that he had killed Riley after ejecting him from the plane despite the fact that there was a parachute attached to it and he easily could have survived, which he does. Where is this guy's sense of logic?!!!

The other characters don't fair any better. Riley is bland, as is the park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) whom he meets (after a really stupid fight sequence) and who helps him in his mission. The terrorist Prichett (Bob Gunton) whom Deakins is working for doesn't really do much, but you know he means business because he moves his hands around a lot. By the way, what kind of activities does his terrorist organization carry out? The answer is...who cares?! They're terrorists! That's all you need to know! There is also Deakins' right hand man, a mole within special forces named Kelly, played by former football player/football commentator Howie Long. Because if you can do a Chevy commerical, you can act in a movie! Oh well, I guess this is better than watching Terry Bradshaw do a nude scene in "Failure to Launch". In other words, the most likable character in this movie is Travolta's, a unlikable villain who spends most of his time being an idiot as well as talking while grinding his teeth a lot. Ughhhh...

Ah come on, my last scene wasn't that bad, was it, Bob?... Bob?

The idiocy continues into the next part of the film. Riley and Terry find one of the bombs and attempt to bury it underground in an abandoned mine in order to dull the impact. Deakins catches up to them and reveals that he set it up so that Riley accidentally sets off the timer. He then, once again, mocks Riley by predicting that he does not have the guts to leave the bomb underground. Ummm...what else is he suppose to do?! If he leaves it underground, he has slim chance of saving himself, Terry, and others from being blown into oblivion. If he doesn't do it, the bomb will go off above the ground, which will guarantee that they will die. Riley may be a lame character, but he is not stupid. He is not doing this to be a hero; it's called making a rational choice between the lesser of two evils in order to survive! Get that into your head, Deakins, you dumb-ass! Well, after a stupid gun fight, the bomb goes off underground which dampens the blow of the impact, though I would think that it should have been much more of a bigger blast than was shown. But then again, this is John Woo: whatever he knows about science is limited to special effects and doesn't really take into account...the actual laws of science.

*SPOILER ALERT*...I guess

The rest of the movie is basically about trying to get the other bomb and a bunch of helicopters getting blown up. It ends with Deakins and Riley getting into a boxing match on a train (yeah, that is as stupid as it sounds), before Riley saves the day by ripping off the end of "True Lies". CUT!

*SPOILERS END HERE*...as if you really cared

This was a stupid movie. The characters are lame, there are too many plot holes, and worst of all, its just really boring. I mean, it wasn't terrible. Occasionally Travolta or one of the other characters have a good scene here and there, but even then they are not good enough for me to remember them, which is kind of the point: there is nothing in this that makes it a memorable film, even by bad movie standards. It was just a dull, sub-par, action movie. The only silver lining in all this is that when Travolta and directer John Woo calibrated the following year, they made "Face/Off," an action movie of far superior quality thanks to better writers and Our Cinematic Lord and Savior, Nicolas Cage. So if you want to see a really entertaining film, go see "Face/Off." This, on the other hand, I do not recommend.

See...told you I could do it.