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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Cocktail (1988)

cocktail_4Starring Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elisabeth Shue, Lisa Banes, Laurence Luckinbill, Kelly Lynch, Gina Gershon, Ron Dean, Robert Donley, Ellen Foley

Directed by Roger Donaldson

Expectations: Very low.

onehalfstar


When you hear someone talking about ’80s movies that haven’t aged well, Cocktail is exactly the type of movie they’re talking about. Everything about the film is so drenched in 1980s wealth-seeking immorality that it’s no surprise the film was a huge success in its day. But in 2013, Cocktail stands easily identifiable as a dated and overlong mess of a film. I love ’80s movies more than most people, but Cocktail is ’80s in all the wrong ways.

But for some reason Cocktail isn’t all that hard to watch. Sure, it’s well-shot and features some great locations in New York City and Jamaica, but that’s beside the point. The real reason is Tom Cruise. I’ve never been much of a fan, but I can’t deny him his ability to fill a screen and own it with his charisma. He’s on full display throughout the film and he does a great job playing a sexist, idealistic douche. The supporting cast is also easy on the eyes, with Bryan Brown perfectly playing the cocky bartender mentor and Elisabeth Shue looking beautiful as she facilitates romantic plot points for Cruise to work his way through.

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