Red Heat (1988)

redheat_10Red Heat (1988)
AKA Red Bull

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Peter Boyle, Ed O’Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Gina Gershon, Richard Bright, J.W. Smith, Brent Jennings, Gretchen Palmer, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Mike Hagerty, Brion James

Directed by Walter Hill

Expectations: Moderate.

twohalfstar


Rising to fame during the 1980s, it was only a matter of time before Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast in a buddy cop film. Studios were green-lighting buddy cop movies in the ’80s like I wolf down tortilla chips (which is to say, nearly constantly and compulsively). Red Heat follows the classic buddy cop structure as well, taking two cops with very different styles and smashing them together against their will. One of the cops is usually out of their element, too, leading to laughs and/or misunderstandings that endear the characters to us. But while Red Heat hits all the buddy cop hallmarks, it’s still just an OK buddy cop movie. Yes, even with Arnold in the lead role.

As I see it, the main problem is Jim Belushi. He plays Chicago cop Art Ridzik, a reckless, insufferable asshole — I don’t think there are many actors better at this than Belushi — but he’s not a likable, insufferable asshole; he’s just insufferable. He doesn’t mix well with Ivan Danko, Arnold’s character, either. It’s like a romantic movie without the spark. You never get the feeling that Danko and Ridzik gives two shits about each other, so when we get to the end of the film and suddenly there’s some buddy-buddy feelings, it’s really hard to buy into.

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Scanner Cop (1994)

Starring Daniel Quinn, Darlanne Fluegel, Richard Grove, Mark Rolston, Richard Lynch, Hilary Shepard, James Horan, Gary Hudson, Cyndi Pass, Luca Bercovici, Christopher Kriesa, Savannah Smith Boucher, Ben Reed, Brion James, Elan Rothschild

Directed by Pierre David

Expectations: Moderate, but hopeful. Anything with a “______ Cop” title is usually worth a watch.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


I didn’t expect much going into Scanner Cop. As the fourth entry in the Scanners series of unrelated films, I figured they were probably fairly close to the bottom of the barrel. There are lots of cop movies from around this time, so I figured Scanner Cop was just another in a long line of clichéd cop movies (even if the naming convention of “______ Cop” always gets me excited for a movie). It is clichéd, without a doubt, but you can’t discredit the fact that Scanner Cop is actually a pretty damn good movie. It gets two key things right: amazing FX work by none other than unsung genre hero (and one of my favorite FX artists) John Carl Buechler, and a killer story. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t always up to par with the premise, featuring inventive lines such as “My men are dying! It’s a war out there!” populating a lot of the film’s cop dialogue exchanges. All of that is a moot point as the wild inventiveness of the situations take hold of your soul and never let go.

Consider the opening scene. A man, obviously a scanner, crashes through his dingy apartment looking for his medication. His young son looks on in fear as his father gets more and more outraged at his inability to find his pills. The father locks himself in the bathroom and while looking at his haggard face in the mirror, small human faces start pushing themselves out from his forehead. If that doesn’t sell you on Scanner Cop, then you’re beyond hope. I was howling with laughter, I was cringing in horror, I was abso-fucking-lutely riveted.

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Blade Runner (1982)

Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Brion James, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, James Hong

Directed by Ridley Scott

Expectations: High. This is my third time through, so I expect to like it more.


Blade Runner is not a film that I get overjoyed with while watching. I don’t even think it’s all that good. But it is unique, and it is well made, and I do like it quite a bit. I don’t expect that to make sense to anyone but me, but that’s just the way it is. I have tons of issues with this film, but regardless I continue to come back to it. If I say nothing more, that alone should tell you that Blade Runner is an interesting piece of cinema. For the record, I watched the 2007 Final Cut this time. I first saw the film about fifteen years ago when I watched a VHS of the International Cut. Roughly seven or eight years later, I watched the 1992 Director’s Cut on DVD.

After three viewings over the last fifteen years and reading the book around the second time I watched it, I still have a hard time following this movie. That could be interpreted as the movie and I just not connecting, or you could take it as the movie being poorly paced and just not telling its story very well. I’m willing to admit my fault when it’s due, but I have to be honest: I think it’s the movie’s fault this time. No amount of tinkering or re-editing can change it, Blade Runner is just a damn slow movie. I like it immensely more now than I did upon first seeing it, but I still think it’s wildly overrated.

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