Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stone Cold (1991)

Blissfully ridiculous early-'90s action flick about a renegade cop (ahhhhh, yesssss) who goes deep undercover as an anarchist biker to prevent a political assassination. The cop is played by Brian Bosworth, a former Seattle Seahawks linebacker, is named "Joe Huff," and rocks both a pet iguana AND a blonde mullet; one of his adversaries refers to him as a "grown up Bam-Bam." As an actor, Bosworth has, typical for the era, very little charisma other than the body to convincingly pulverize baddies with, but the plot (and direction) nurture his wooden style very well. Lance Henriksen is a typically strong villain, William Forsythe makes a chew toy out of the scenery with his biker henchman, and Sam MacMurray is a surprisingly effective and likable comic relief. However, the highlight here is the goofy energy of it all; the spirited, action-heavy set-pieces, the caricatured supporting performances, and the one-liners are all brilliantly over-the-top, including my favorite line of the film, from Henriksen ("That reminds me of my daddy's last words: 'No, please, son, put that down, the gun's loaded!'"). It seems that the right people, and enough of them, were comfortable enough with the inevitable tone of this stupid film to, as Bosworth says in the film, "turn it on," and make it the most balls-to-the-wall, ludicrous scummy action film they possibly could, and it worked; the film is far more entertaining than more sincere entries in the action genre during this time, if only for its relentless pace, due to hilarious peaks of absurdity, and the willingness to abandon several extraneous mainstays of the genre, including a shoehorned love interest, a villain who kills his own cohorts on a whim, and politically correct action scenes where only villains, and not bystanders, die. The films this reminded me of most were the first 2 Death Wish sequels, despite the relatively hunkier, younger lead in this one; the drama is comically on-the-nose and mild, and the action is grotesquely over-the-top in ways only the most cynical and poisoned of Hollywood producers could endorse.

Highly Recommended for fans of over-the-top action cinema of the late-'80s/early-90's and Lance Henriksen's goofy villain roles a la Hard Target. This film is a blast for the right people, and for the wrong people, GO SEE AVATAR AGAIN hahahahaha.

P.S. My unfortunate disdain for Avatar will probably boil over once it stops being the number one highest grossing movie ever...Nolans, you can finish that Batman 3 script anytime now....

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