Film: Wanted: Dead or Alive (1987)
The Principals: Director: Gary Sherman. Rutger Hauer, Gene Simmons, Robert Guillaume, Mel Harris, William Russ, Susan MacDonald, Jerry Hardin
The Premise: Former Company man turned bounty hunter, Nick Randall (Hauer), who’s a descendant of Josh Randall (Steve McQueen from the 1950s show of the same name), a bounty hunter back in the Old West, is asked by his former colleagues to track down a terrorist (Simmons) who’s arrived in LA to blow shit up real big.
Is It Good: It’s a little offbeat, but yeah, it is pretty good. Not great, like Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop, but not too far off from them. In fact, you could say that Randall is sort of a cross between Foley and Riggs. He’s deadly and yet knows how to be creative to solve a situation. He’s a guy who’s not that big a fan of his current work, but nonetheless the best at it and Hauer is interesting in his portrayal. Randall knows how to work both inside and outside the system, and he lives his personal life in style, maintaining a nice car, a stylish loft and a quaint but rundown boat. His personal life had been a mess until he met Terry (Harris, in her first film role), a flight attendant. William Russ is fun as Randall’s best friend and police contact, Danny Quintz. Gene Simmons is also pretty good, downplaying terrorist Malak Al Rahim in suitably creepy fashion. Robert Guillaume’s talents also are not wasted in the film.
Wanted: Dead or Alive is probably the highlight in the career of writer-director Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Poltergeist III), who’s piddled around TV mostly for the last 20+ years. He directs the film with a fairly loose style and keeps the atmosphere light and the action moving.
Is It Worth A Look: The MOD is really becoming a chance for me to visit movies from the 1980s that I should have sen much earlier. I generally liked the movie and didn’t have any real complaints. It was a departure for Hauer, who was probably more notable at that stage of his career for prior roles whereby he had played psychos and crazies in films like Nighthawks, Blade Runner and The Hitcher. I’ve always liked Hauer, for those films, Ladyhawke, the cheesy Blind Fury, Surviving the Game, Sin City and several others. I’m adding Wanted: Dead or Alive to that list. Too bad there weren’t any sequels; but hey, it’s not too late yet…
Random Anecdotes: Rutger Hauer was in the running for the role of Alex Murphy in RoboCop, which was directed by his old friend, Paul Verhoeven.
Cinematic Soulmates: Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop.