Yeah, I’m doubling down on a few of these.

The Scott brothers released a movie in the same year for the first time. Awwwww!

Director: Tony

The adage “They don’t make ‘em like they used to!”, which is generally used to lament things like the current lack of Busby Berkeley style musical extravaganzas, can swing the other way as well. For all of the overuse of CGI and rock video editing, I find that modern action films usually at least try to have layered, well developed characters, and plots that make some degree of sense. In comparison, watching an 80’s action movie can seem fairly archaic. By that point they had the flash down, but had yet to find the substance.

That being said, this is the peak of Tony Scott’s career. While brother Ridley is floundering with well made, but critically panned and financially unsuccessful failures, Tony is churning out hit after hit. Granted, they’re awful, but few other directors could claim to have a finger as close to the cultural zeitgeist of the time. This is epitomized by the opening scene of the film: An amazonian, platinum blonde supermodel, in a garish white coat and shades, robs a jewelry store at gunpoint. Not the most inconspicuous of crimes, but the point is made; Chicks are hot, guns are cool, and money is everything. Sounds like the 80’s to me.

Scott was a strange choice for director, because he doesn’t do “whimsy” very well. His directing style seems to gravitate between harsh reality, and Calvin Klein commercial. So, when an ordinary person is fooled by one of Eddie Murphy’s ridiculous cons, it ends up seeming more odd and unbelievable than comical. Well, except for the part about passing as the head of a “Multi Jurisdictional Task Force” (Google “Bill Anthony Jakob” for an interesting, real life version of this story).

I found the attempts at comedy in this to be pretty painful, but it’s difficult to gage what people find funny; You might love this. I liked the subplot about Judge Reinhold’s creepy obsession with weaponry (And I love the dude’s voice. It’s like Bob Ross meets Jesus.), and a couple lines worked for me (“Don’t think, Axel! Makes my dick itch!”).

This would be forgivable if the action scenes picked up the slack, but sadly there’s not a lot of action to be found. Stock shootouts, and fairly boring car chases. And since there’s no dramatic weight to any of this, you don’t really care who ends up getting shot anyway.

Note to the kids: The song playing in the strip club scene is “Sex”, by George Michael. It was a really controversial song at the time, because he used the word “sex”. Take your time; I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.

Obviously, this was thrown together as a star vehicle for Eddie Murphy’s antics. And while I think that worked in the original film (Which is a classic, if you’ve never seen it!), it feels a lot more forced this time out. Better than Top Gun, but I wouldn’t say by very much.

5 out of 10

Director: Ridley

Ridley does Noir with a twist again; This time, it’s set in the modern day (Of 1987). However, there’s a mixture of songs used, ranging from that time period, to the 1920’s, and all the way back to the classical. There’s a mixture of modern architecture, and shit that could almost be Roman. Even though there’s no supernatural element in the film, it gives the impression of time travel. Ridley can never completely give up the world of the fantastic, it seems.

And these radical shifts are not without purpose; It’s used as a juxtaposition between the “lowly” life of a police detective from Queens, and the glamour and higher education of his “betters”. Noir films often involve some poor schlub being taken on a ride by a dazzling femme fatale, but this is a little different; A little more real. She’s not corrupting him out of pure manipulation; It’s just in her nature.

Considering that this is referred to as a minor work of Ridley Scott, I was surprised that I ended up liking it a lot. Tom Berenger and Mimi Rogers are not often the leads in big hollywood productions, and it was nice to see them take to the challenge admirably. Tom, usually in the role of “Stern Asshole”, is sympathetic and touching in this. It’s ostensibly a thriller, but I would have been riveted by these characters, even if there were no thriller elements to be found.

The photography, as usual, is amazing. And this is Ridley’s most audience friendly movie yet, in terms of the way that it’s edited; It’s still methodically paced, but with a little more spring in it’s step.

I’m bumping this from minor, to major.

8 out of 10