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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Bullet to the Head (2013)

BullettotheHead_1Starring Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater, Jon Seda, Holt McCallany, Brian Van Holt, Weronika Rosati, Dane Rhodes, Marcus Lyle Brown

Directed by Walter Hill

Expectations: Moderate and hopeful.

twohalfstar


Bullet to the Head is a film that many will likely hate. Its story is convoluted and dumb, it’s needlessly gratuitous in its violence, and it looks more like an episode of a crime-themed TV show than a movie. But despite the odds stacked against it, Bullet to the Head succeeds by blunt force. This is far from being a good, well-made film, but it’s entertaining in all the right ways as long as you’re able to get into its groove. If nothing else, it should be impressive that Stallone is able to hold his own on-screen at 67 years old against people half his age.

Bullet to the Head opens with a hit. James Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner bust into a posh hotel room and quickly dispatch of the man inside. For reasons unexplained, James does not take out the sole witness to their crime, a woman hiding in the shower. When they go to get paid they find that the job was a set-up, as another hitman (Jason Momoa) kills James’s partner and almost does the same to James. Meanwhile, Taylor (Sung Kang), a cop from Washington DC travels to New Orleans to investigate the murder of his ex-partner (AKA the man killed in the opening hit). But while the New Orleans Police Department is standing in his way, Taylor finds an unlikely partner in James.

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Trespass (1992)

Starring Bill Paxton, Ice T, William Sadler, Ice Cube, Art Evans, De’voreaux White, Bruce A. Young, Glenn Plummer, Stoney Jackson, T.E. Russell, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Hal Landon Jr.

Directed by Walter Hill

Expectations: As the final film of Ice Fest, I’m excited and a little sad it’s all over.


As soon as Trespass started, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The opening scene seemed designed specifically for me in this moment, as the second line in the film is spoken by Ice Cube, quickly followed by a line from Ice T. The scene is a series of close-ups as Ice T and his associates watch a video of one of their friends being murdered, intercut with the credits of the film. The structure of the scene builds excitement as you start piecing together the story that will play out for your enjoyment, but obviously for me there was another, more pressing agenda. Seeing Ice Cube and Ice T together in one film after eight solo films was too much for me to handle. No matter what the dramatic weight of the scene was, I couldn’t help myself. I had the biggest grin on my face and I was hooting with glee. The two Ices had finally joined forces. “Life is good,” I said to myself. And the best part of this story is that the movie that followed this pure, giddy joy was awesome.

After this opening scene we meet our two main characters, a couple of firefighters played by William Sadler and Bill Paxton. While attempting to save “Ted” Theodore Logan’s dad (Hal Landon Jr. for the non-Bill & Ted’s fans) from a burning building, Paxton acquires a package containing a golden Celtic cross and a newspaper clipping about an old Catholic church robbery. There’s also a map inside, so Paxton shows his buddy and they decide that treasure hunting for a million dollars worth of gold sounds a hell of a lot better than slaving away at the firehouse for the rest of their lives. The only caveat is that the building the map leads them to is deep in the bad part of town, and the situation quickly escalates to violence.

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