The Watchers

The Watchers

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Rhys' Retro Collection #2: Broken Arrow and Cobra


Broken Arrow was written by Graham Yost (who wrote Speed) and directed by the then can-do-no-wrong John Woo. It’s 1996 and at that time John Travolta is in full come back mode. This film is a massive ‘I'm cool, I'm back’ statement from Travolta.

The film centres on the deliberate crash of a stealth bomber to steal nuclear weapons. Travolta plays the villainous traitor bomber pilot, while Christian Slater plays the hero pilot who is trying to stop him. Slater gives a very good go at playing the young hero – but I’m afraid to say I can see why Slater didn’t do much after this. He just doesn’t have what it takes to be a leading man. I would have liked to see someone else take on Travolta and make me believe they’re a worthy match.

The film has the flair and style of a John Woo movie – stunning visual cues and themes are as ever used here – the director likes to set up characters with visual cues (i.e. introducing characters with music cues and slick visuals to demonstrate who they are; Travolta slow motion walks into frame while looking menacing – that sort of thing).  Which now I’m afraid to say is very dated – but the film came out in 1996, which is sixteen years ago! What is more worrying for me is the film is almost twenty years old and reminds me I’m mortal! Anyway, enough of me realising how old a tech VHS is, the film…

The plot is set in almost real time – you’re thrown from action scene to action scene chasing down Travolta before he can set off a nuke – very familiar stuff for action fans. Which in some ways makes it a little- dare I say- boring? When I watched this when I was younger I loved this film, but now it’s just a little dull and way too predictable! Don't get me wrong, I’m a Woo fan and the Travolta and Woo re-team a year later with Face/Off is superb and has stood the test of time! But this film just feels lacklustre now. I was disappointed with it and I’m afraid it hasn’t made it onto the re-buy on DVD list!

Rating: 2 out of 5

COBRA (1986)

Now this is an example of my guilty pleasures in movies – a 1980’s action movie starring Sylvester Stallone! When this film came out, it was a film based on the original script for Beverly Hills Cop. While Stallone was attached to star in that film, he worked on the script – when the studio decided his Beverly Hills Cop was not what they wanted, Stallone left the project – but took his screenplay with him, which then became Cobra! This is a prime example of a film in my old collection that I should hate, be ashamed of and downright say ‘by today’s standards etc etc’. However, I won’t.

Why? Because it’s dated, it’s badly plotted, badly acted and badly directed by George P. Cosmatos (who, a year previously, directed Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part 2 to great success). So why does this film still make me smile? Because if you’re expecting anything else from a 80s action movie, you’re a moron! This does what it sets out to do: low on plot, high on action. Bad guy doing bad things, good guy takes him out! And there is nothing wrong with that.

Stallone plays the lead title role, a cop who specialises in chaos and taking on the jobs other cops don't want! (Love it – just cliché heaven). The film has everything you expect: an over the top villain, played hammily brillantly by Brian Thompson; a damsel in distress (played by the then Mrs. Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen), bad pun one-liners; a montage, and more deaths than there rightly should be. The film is awful – however quite simply it’s 'that bad, it’s good!' You can't help but smile while watching 80s Stallone. This film is worth a re-watch, but I feel I won’t rush to replace it on DVD even though I enjoyed it again.

Rating: 3 out 5


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