Monday, August 2, 2010

Black Moon Rising (1986)

Fairly cool '80s-style heist movie about the theft and recovery of a turbo-powered, hydrogen-fueled supercar. Tommy Lee Jones is Sam Quint ("the one man they didn't count on," says the trailer), a thief specializing in corporate espionage who stashes key info in the supercar, which is promptly swiped by Linda Hamilton's expert hijacker. The rest of the film involves Quint's attempt to steal the car back from Hamilton's boss, the typically sleazy Robert Vaughn, along with Quint and Hamilton's forced romance ("We have a lot in common...we're both thieves," says Quint...ugh). The script was co-written by '80s film demigod* John Carpenter, and there is some very efficient gadgetry, pacing, and dialogue here; although he didn't direct, it does not feel like his original draft was rewritten into oblivion. Also, Tommy Lee Jones, in one of his earliest leading man roles, somewhat resembles, in voice and appearance, Mr. Carpenter, and definitely embodies the tough, intelligent lead of this film better than any of the more obvious mid-80s action stars; with another lead delivering his cold, calculating dialogue, this film could easily be an unwatchable bore. Hamilton suffers from a poorly-written role (honestly, their love story is really lame), but remains a very vibrant, organic presence, and holds her own when riding shotgun and capping fools while Quint races the supercar. The rest of the supporting cast is serviceable, with Keenan Wynn and William Sanderson (one of whom gets a terrific death scene) making the most lasting impressions. The film is shot and styled like a contemporary '80s action film, but many of the action scenes have more energy in their conception than their execution. That being said, the heist itself proves to be a satisfying and exciting conclusion, and Jones character is magnetic enough to care about his fate.

Recommended for '80s style action junkies (Ferrarri's and neon lighting abound) and fans of Tommy Lee Jones. Jones deserved an A-list career long before he won his Fugitive Oscar, and this film offers ample proof of that with Jones' grizzled, but charming badass.

*I only use such loving praise when someone writes, directs, and SCORES movies SUCH AS Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, Escape from New York, The Fog, Prince of Darkness, and They Live, let alone ALL OF THEM

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