It was only a matter of time…
The B Action Movie Thread has been a gargantuan mainstay of this site for several years. So, in our continued efforts to dominate the internet in every conceivable way, here is a weekly column. A digest, if you will. Dig in and we’ll see you in the thread!
THIS WEEK ON THE B ACTION MOVIE THREAD (Last Week’s Installment)
Erix here bringing you the best The B Thread had to offer from page 1408 to 1411.
On the personal front, Fazer dropped by to say hi after a long hiatus and Rene celebrated his birthday in style, with some lovely gifts from his lady love.
Now then… I’d like to start things off with the lovely video The Perfect Weapon posted. It’s really quite inspiring and shows how B Action can lift the spirits in every corner of the world.
Moving right along… Many of us weigh in on the recent news involving DIE HARD 5. What is it called finally? Die Hard 24/7? Are they going with that? Really?
Anyway… The regulars have this to say:
HunterTarantino (Mike Flynn) – Surely everyone’s rolled their eyes at Fox (apparently at Bruno’s behest) hiring noted visionary auteur NOAM MUNRO to direct Die Hard 5. I admit, I was seriously hoping Robert Rodriguez would take it and bring it back to its hard-R roots, but I have an awful feeling that this is going to be another name-only, PG-13 sequel that I refuse to acknowledge its presence.
Four years gone by and I still haven’t seen Live Free or Die Hard. I plan to stick to that.
Moltisanti – There was a time when a Robert Rodriguez directed DIE HARD would have sounded great to me, but that time has passed. It took MACHETE for me to realize that Rodriguez is just stuck in the same gear as a director and I have a hard time seeing him evolve from where he is currently. DESPERADO and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN will (hopefully) never get old for me, but Rodriguez at this point just seems to be doing variations of the same movies over and over again. Doubt SPY KIDS 4 will change that perception.
wadew1 – They’ve really lined up a who’s who of WHO GIVES A SHIT talent for DH5. And the last piece of shit did pretty well, so of course it’s going to be PG-13.
Fat Elvis – Whoever is directing DH5, the herculean task is waking Willis up from his dreary funk. He pretty much was the worst part of –and really singlehandedly brought down–RED. <Bring back the smirk, Bruno!>
S.D. Bob Plissken – I couldn’t give two shits about who directs it, especially since the action will fall more on 2nd unit. All I care about is Bruce actually playing McClane this time and that they still have some interesting material for whoever they cast as the villain to work with after the script gets rewritten 50 times. Olyphant wasn’t miscast in Live Free. He was just stuck with a cardboard character and surrounded by actors who didn’t seem to give two shits about the film they were in (especially Willis).
Since we’re on the topic of action heroes (as is usually the case), we also discuss Arnold’s imminent return to cinemas. Of course, most of us are hoping to see him soon enough in either The Expendables II or With Wings As Eagles or (preferably) both.
Though our own Clarence Boddicker does have this to say – Arnold should have just aged gracefully like Eastwood. With all that plastic surgery, he looks like an Orange County housewife. I just couldn’t take him seriously in an action movie again. Now would I see his movies? Does the pope shit in the woods?
The Arnold talk naturally brings about some brief talk about Red Heat (which Rene adores). And it gives valued contributor Jox an excuse to post a bunch of excellent teasers for that film. Right here.
And HunterTarantino comes clean…
I don’t hate it, I don’t even dislike it. The problem with the movie is that the premise and the fact that Schwarzenegger and Walter Hill (well, and Belushi, who was fantastic in Salvador two years prior and had proven he could carry an action movie with The Principal) were paired together should have been something more than just passable. The baggage this one rode in with should have resulted in “This year’s Lethal Weapon!” plastered all over the newspaper ads and video release posters.
Its main issue is that the script is too silly to have a semblance of honest merit. However, I think Peter Boyle makes for a great angry police captain, it’s well made by Hill, and the leads have good chemistry. But it could have been so much more. Those TV spots really prove that it could have been. I never saw those, but that’s a great little marketing technique.
If the B Action thread existed in 1988, I’m sure that Red Heat and Rambo III would have been our most anticipated films of the summer, and that movie with the Moonlighting guy looked like it cold be a pretty fun little movie. In the end, that would change radically, and before the summer came, we’d all be losing it over that Seagal guy whose movie came out of nowhere.
Very good points all…
On page 1410, Felix brings us some very welcome news about UNIVERSAL SOLDIER 4
Given the excellence of Universal Soldier: Regeneration, we’re all very excited about this. Particularly since it may give Michael Jai White a chance to watch the stench of THE RETURN out of his mouth. And especially if it ends up being 3D, as was originally rumored. Because it would be theatrical in that case, and John Hyams would be deservedly hitting the big time.
There is also some potential good news for many territories outside of the US that get to see Wesley Snipes’s latest action epic – GALLOWWALKER.
Moltisanti has this to say…
Ah man, they’re gonna get to watch GALLOWWALKER in Egypt. Those chumps finally get rid of their dictator for a few days and they think they can go around sexually assaulting hot CBS reporters and watching Wesley Snipes zombie-westerns before us in the states. Hope they appreciate the spoils of freedom.
Rather than spend too much time envying the people of Egypt, Molt takes a moment to watch Charles Bronson in The Stone Killer.
I was finally able to catch Bronson in Michael Winner’s THE STONE KILLER. Took a while to get its hooks into me, movie is all over the place early on, but about the midway point it finds itself and Michael Winner delivers a film that is worthy of his name.
Bronson sets the tone for how lawless society is early on in THE STONE KILLER by proclaiming “A kid can buy a gun easier than bubblegum.” It’s based upon a novel titled A Complete State of Death and at one point when Bronson is asked the status of a recently deceased escaped convict he replies with “A complete state of death.” Should have kept that title for the movie.
There is also an extremely surreal scene in which Bronson heads to question a female suspect at a hippie commune. While he questions her a bunch of hippies dance a hippie dance behind Bronson. I don’t mean slightly behind him, they’re like right behind his shoulder jiggling and gyrating like hippies do. But Bronson just remains stone-faced and barely even blinks.
During one shootout Bronson busts a cap in some guy in a kitchen right next to a refrigerator. As the guy falls to the ground he grabs and opens the refrigerator door. I don’t know, I liked that. Way more interesting than the guy just falling to the ground without opening a refrigerator.
Interesting to note both John Ritter and Norman Fell co-star in supporting roles, a mere 4 years before they would begin their landlord-tenant relationship on Three’s Company.
He also recommends the Australian Neo-Western Red Hill very highly.
It’s the story of a cop who in a quest for a quieter life is transferred to the small town of Red Hill. Unlucky for him his first day just happens to be the same day that a murderous convict busts out of prison and heads to Red Hill to settle a score with the local law enforcement.
Quite an engrossing modern day western. Loads of jarring brutality. Look for it at a Redbox near you.
Meanwhile, Fat Elvis celebrates Ice T’s birthday in true style.
It can’t all be good times. What with this horrendous new Blu Ray artwork for 48 HRS.
HunterTarantino is not pleased…
the new, HIDEOUS cover for the long-awaited 48 Hrs. Blu-ray, which apparently takes place in a futuristic metropolis besieged my a massive, glowing star that turns the entire city blue. I’m sure Tobias Funke has this one pre-ordered because I just Blu myself.
Perhaps to wash away that unpleasantness, kain424 is gracious enough to provide us with some highlights from a recent Steven Seagal interview from the BBC.
Now I leave you with this thought to ponder… With the upcoming Fast Five apparently getting raves and Dwayne Johnson finally involving himself in some promising action projects, will the day finally come where we can stop calling him THE PEBBLE?
I guess time will tell.
THE MIND OF RENE F. RANGEL
Saw the Sandler movie, Just Go With It with my brother, his girlfriend, and my girlfriend earlier. …. it’s pretty funny, and Nick Swardson has the fake name of DOLPH LUNDGREN through most of the movie. Laughed a lot, and had a good time with it. Others might not find it funny, and I know a lot hate Sandler. It didn’t make me laugh as much as Grown-Ups, but it wasn’t a bust.
I actually wish they could have used that character from the Terminator 2 novels that I was reading about on Wikipedia that was an Austrian Counter-Terrorism agent named Dieter who was the model for the T-800. That would be cool.
THIS WEEK’S MOVIE
RENE GUSHES ALL OVER THE AWESOMENESS OF CON AIR
“Aw man, it smells like someone shit in your mouth!”
“Told me he loved me.”
“One girl, I drove through 3 states wearing her head as a hat.”
Con Air was quite possibly one of my most anticipated movies of the summer of 1997. The other being Face/Off. To this day, those are the only 2 movies I remember really wanting to see. I had wanted to see Batman And Robin, but as well all know, that turned out to be a bust.
Con Air turned out to be a great way to start off the summer, and it’s a reminder that at one point, Jerry Bruckheimer was interested in doing R-rated popcorn action fare. Much like the previous year’s masterpiece, The Rock, Con Air stars Nicholas Cage, and lots of things blowing up. This movie doesn’t have Sean Connery telling him that winners fuck the Prom Queen. Instead it has Cage playing an Alabama redneck who was in the Army Rangers, and gets thrown in jail for defending his wife against some trash that had been accosting them.
We get a montage of him in prison at the beginning, where he starts growing his hair long, and becomes fluent in Spanish (why they make this seem important at the beginning, but he never uses it at all in the movie has always been something that I’ve found strange. Especially since he had several opportunities to use it). He shares those pink coconut cupcake things with Mykelti Williamson, and they become friendly after that. Not “friendly” just platonic friends, as Cage’s character, CAMERON POE just wants to get back to his wife, and daughter who he’s never seen, due to not wanting to see her in a prison setting.
The action really gets into gear when the airplane housing the worst criminals in the U.S. gets taken over. (What judge came up with the brilliant idea of putting all of these guys together on one plane?) and that’s where we start seeing the real guys that you came to see the movie for. John Malkovich, Nick Chinlund, Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo, M.C. Gainey, Steve Buscemi,and smaller turns by Dave Chapelle and a bunch of other actors who look damn mean.
Except for this guy.
NONE of these guys look like pretty boys. They all look like criminals who would rape a corpse just for enjoyment. Buscemi’s character, Garland Green is even feared by the other cons since he had gone on a several state murder spree. Corpse fucking was probably one of the things on his menu.
Danny Trejo plays Johnny 23, a rapist with 23 counts of it. He looks like one mean bastard in the movie.
Nick Chinlund’s character killed his wife’s entire family (including the dog) after catching her in bed with another man.
Malkovich is a jack of all trades who’s been in prison most of his life.
A lot of the information on the convicts is provided by John Cusack. He’s a Government man, but he wears sandals. He’s nicely juxtaposed with Colm Meany, who lives up to his surname as the DEA agent who wants revenge on the cons in the plane.
This movie is just loads of action. I still remember sitting in the theater marveling at all the stuff blowing up and guns going off. Sure the action gets increasingly ridiculous as it goes along, but you don’t care. You just want to see Cage beat the crap out of guys and slap a transvestite. (Trivia: Cage handles a gun ONCE in the movie. The rest of the time it’s all hand to hand combat)
You want to see Dave Chapelle before he went crazy, and being funny as a little weasely guy named Pinball (had this been made in the 80’s his character would probably have been played by the king weasel, David Patrick Kelly) spray accelerant on a guy and yell “THE LAST MOHICAN IS BURNIN’ MAN!
You want to see Ving Rhames talk about “The day of the dog” and get electrocuted by about 5 batons.
You certainly want to see what happens after Cage says “Put the bunneh back in the box.”
This is one of the last movies of the 90’s to scream “I’m from the 80’s!” in terms of sheer action and nonsensical plot. Con Air at it’s heart, is a very expensive B-Movie. Much like The Rock, and Bad Boys II.
The dialogue in the movie contains many quotes, that typing them up would only do them a fraction of the justice they deserve. They should be heard rather than just read. Every actor in the movie is game, and having a lot of fun.
Of note also is the music score by Trevor Rabin. The only music previously that had really resonated with me was Alan Silvestri’s score to both Predator films, Lalo Schifrin’s score to Dirty Harry, Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly score, and Hans Zimmer’s Broken Arrow score. I was still a year away from revisiting The Thing for the first time in years and hearing the amazing Morricone score.
Then I heard the wailing electric guitar and pounding score. It’s a lot similar to the score from The Rock which is also bombastic, but didn’t really take hold of me until years later when I got the vhs, and then further with the Criterion dvd set.
By the time you see Malkovich stabbed, electrocuted, then smashed by a rock crusher, you are expecting one big final music cue, and it happens. The score is pretty much non stop throughout the film, and I know that one song was nominated for an Oscar, but I could give 2 shits about it. They should have nominated the score as well.
Con Air is the perfect movie to see at any time of the day. It could be your day off, and you’re waking up, and think “Hey, I want to see some high octane non stop action!” and you can throw in the Blu-ray or the Extended cut dvd (stay away from the theatrical cut dvd if you have an HDTV as it’s non-anamorphic) and have a good time with it. You’ll also get to see the amazing things that white trash like M.C. Gainey’s Swamp Thing can do. THAT’S RIGHT!
Mike’s Take: An Old Flame Rekindled
Where are you going with my plane, Cyrus?
We’re going to Disneyland.
You’re lying, Cyrus.
So are you, Vince. Ohhhhhhhhhhh, nothing makes me sadder than the agent lost his bladder on the…airrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrplaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnne!
Ah, Con Air. Con fucking Air. The first R-rated movie I saw in theaters that mattered (we’ll forget it was really Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion). As a 9-year-old who had been exposed to plenty of violent, R-rated epics—thanks Mom and Eddie!—Con Air was my first big theatrical experience with an R-rated action movie, after falling for stuff like The Rock and Eraser on video.
My mom hated it. I don’t think she’s ever forgiven me for it. But for about six or seven weeks (until I saw Face/Off in a fairly shitty theater in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and promptly declared it the best movie of all time), Con Air was the greatest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. I loved it in theaters. I rented the VHS once or twice, then bought it at Price Club months later. I dropped $25 of my birthday money on the original, non-anamorphic DVD. Throughout fourth and fifth grade, everything that won an Academy Award or ended up on the AFI’s Top 100 could go fuck itself because it didn’t have Nicolas Cage doing whatever it takes—even killing—to get home for his little girl’s birthday (that would be July 14, thank you very much!).
Revisiting this, I’m not only wolfing out about how much I loved it as a kid, it’s dawned on me: Con Air is one of the masterpieces of late 20th century action cinema. 1997 was still a period where if you wrote a script that, regardless of rewrites and reshoots and anything that gets in its way, a badass, no-bull logline could win you a budget in the upper eight figures from the Silvers and Bruckheimers of the industry. Con Air hit at a time well past the height of Die Hard and Shane Black, that post-Pulp Fiction era where vulgarity and especially violence were the coolest things ever.
Essentially, Con Air is like if Die Hard 2 had a magical, passionate night in a cornfield with a George Carlin routine, and the result was a vitriol-spewing exercise in aircrafts and brutality. Anyone who’s ever heard his brilliant routine on reserving rectangular states as massive prison farms or his epic airline announcements diatribe can probably pinpoint how this film is a psychotic, action-movie version of those monologues. Case further in point: the part where Pinball (Dave Chappelle) earns his name posthumously. His body falls out of the plane. Meanwhile, a middle-aged couple (the husband of whom is the late, great Don S. Davis, a.k.a. Major Briggs from Twin Peaks) have their idyllic day in the city spoiled by a bird shitting on their car as the theme from A Summer Place plays. The dialogue between them sounds like the sort of thing Carlin would have acted out, with this whole aw-shucks “Honey, what a horrible thing to happen today!” manner displayed by their conversation. And then the unthinkable happens, as the future sketch-comedy luminary crashes onto an oncoming car, which then crashes into the couple’s car, and another car or two crash as well, all the while the couple is unscathed and flabbergasted by what just happened.
Oh yeah, and the film is a fucking blast. There’s destruction from every conceivable end. Not a moment goes by where someone is making unsavory comments or committing an act of violence against another person, and every action beat is virtually perfect because no explosion goes off without a blaze of glory and no one gets shot without bleeding profusely. Every goddamn vehicle that crashes in this movie is visibly totaled. It’s excess at its finest, when Disney didn’t give a fuck that they had rapists and blatant homophobia and misogyny in their films, and Con Air’s got it in spades.
It has an all-star cast of real men and character actors in the tradition of Uncommon Valor and Extreme Prejudice. Nicolas Cage is at the height of his post-Oscar action hero era, and in spite of his Foghorn Leghorn voice he’s effortless in his charisma and ability to overcome impossible odds (love his Terminator-like prowess when he gets shot in the arm and he doesn’t even blink). John Cusack, in essence, has the same presence, and coming off of playing a hitman in Grosse Pointe Blank it’s fun to see Lloyd Dobler continue to wield a gun. Ving Rhames is an unhinged glory. Garland Greene is another memorable turn from Steve Buscemi’s vast line of them—the highlight being his nuanced remarks about listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd on an airplane. Colm Meaney is a fucking riot as the screaming and very Irish DEA agent. Mykelti Williamson proves diabetes as much of an iconic association to his roles as shrimp was.
But of all the people in this movie, no one—absolutely nobody—comes close to what John Malkovich does with Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom. Personally, it might not be his finest hour, but Malkovich is a cut above so many other actors. Much like Lithgow in Ricochet and Cliffhanger, and unlike Malkovich’s calm-before-the-storm menace in In the Line of Fire, Cyrus is a hateful, ruthless son of a bitch devoid of anything remotely admirable, but you continue to connect and somehow root for him because of his bottomless manic energy. He’s intensely quotable, and his performance adds a distinctive gravity to the wild and crazy energy it emits as a summer blockbuster. I don’t know about this for sure, but it’d also be pretty easy to figure out why the Coens tailored Osbourne Cox specifically for Malkovich in Burn After Reading due to the fact that any other actor would have played Cyrus as an all-id meathead, but instead the guy is a frighteningly articulate intellectual whose blue collar appearance is only skin deep.
Also note that Charlie Kaufman ended up working with all three leads, so don’t think this movie is some sort of forgotten fluke or dumb action movie. So what? That’s exactly what the intention was, and there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that at nine years old and as a young man of 23, Con Air is a masterpiece of excessive, explosive insanity.
And after my colleagues have hailed it as a masterpiece, I’ll just step in and say I don’t know about that but it is a wonderfully stupid movie. And I mean that in the most positive way.
I hadn’t seen it in a long time. Revisiting it this week, I find that it is probably the best of the obnoxious Bruckheimer action films of the 90s. The movies that somehow managed to rope in these amazing casts with their 2-page screenplays and were all about the over the top action and glitzy visuals, while strident Trevor Rabin guitars played in the background.
It’s the best of the bunch (I can now say it might be better than The Rock) because Simon West is not pretentious. I think when you have a hero who is hamming it up by speaking every line as if he has potatoes in his mouth and a rogue’s gallery of villains led by a blue collar Hannibal Lecter, you know what you’re doing. So the movie is all about full speed ahead and it’s over before you even have time to register what it was about.
I will say that I was particularly struck this time by the odd poignancy in Steve Buscemi’s character. There is that weird scene, on the edge of the third act, where he wanders into a nearby house and plays with a little girl. The way that scene is played, it’s about this guy discovering his humanity. There is an actual depth to the part where she asks him if he’s sick… He says yes. She asks why he isn’t taking any medicine. He responds: There is no medicine for what I have.
The EPKs want to convince you that this is a character-driven movie. Even though every single one of these people are caricatures that exist completely outside of reality. But the Buscemi tea party scene is remarkable, because I kind of want a whole movie about this character. Amidst the Looney Tunes action that abounds, you have a scene that suggests something more.
But that was snuck in there by writer Scott Rosenberg. Simon West was just interested in staging some of the wackiest action imaginable and didn’t notice.
And that’s fine… As my colleagues have said, this is fun stuff.
But I really want that other movie now.
Oh… And Faith Hill can just shut up. That song is terrible. And the movie decides to subject us to it TWICE.
MIKE FLYNN PRESENTS: THE TAO OF CAGE – HAIR, LUNACY, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST COLORFUL ACTORS
I am not a demon. I am a lizard, a shark, a heat-seeking panther. I want to be Bob Denver on acid playing the accordion.
If there is anything at all that sums up Nicolas Cage as a person, it’s the above quote which he once stated. The Internet age has christened him a cult hero with the wild popularity of scenes from The Wicker Man on YouTube and places like this blog [http://niccageaseveryone.blogspot.com] have immortalized him for his frenzied, off-the-wall persona. Conan O’Brien just fueled his legend farther with a “Nicolas Cage threat level,” which personified the terror threat levels with his overacting.
He won an Academy Award, and rightfully so, for his performance in Leaving Las Vegas as the most tortured, hopeless alcoholic ever seen on film. Before he hit the age of 30, he had an array of performances arguably on the level of what De Niro and Pacino had done. The worried best friend in Birdy, the good-hearted criminal buffoon in Raising Arizona, the Elvis-crooning, ill-tempered sociopath in Wild at Heart, the opportunistic, flawed noir hero of Red Rock West—into the 90’s, Cage was one of the most fascinating characters of Hollywood. Post-Oscar, his transition into being a full-blown action hero was a huge success. Lest we forget, The Rock is still Michael Bay’s best film. Face/Off is an especially strong demonstration of why the man is so good. At this point, he had hit a crossroads in his career from the daring young actor to headlining summer films, and the film’s plot allows him to not only play the gun-wielding good guy, but he also has an absolute blast going so over the top as the filthy-rich criminal bad boy Castor Troy, bouncing around the screen as he gleefully dispatches FBI agents. In retrospect, where we now primarily remember Cage for being an action hero or a martial artist in a bear suit, these admirable qualities take prevalence over his glory days.
I’m absolutely not saying that Cage is past his prime. His performance in Adaptation is a career best, and in spite of the films themselves not being perfect, his turns in Lord of War and The Weather Man are brilliant. The magic that Cage has is that he never plays himself as being choosy in Hollywood, always willing to spring for a variety of genres and roles. Some see it as an unwilling to say no, a compensation for his reported financial troubles. Contrarily, however, whereas other actors such as Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise have ended up regretting turning down offers to expand their horizons, Cage can seamlessly blend himself into both challenging, unconventional fare and big-budget popcorn efforts.
He’s one of the great luminaries of film presences as we know it, and his turns in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Kick-Ass have helped remind circles that he hasn’t sold himself to solely doing Jerry Bruckheimer-produced tentpole vehicles. I would go on longer about this, but Cage is someone whose presence speaks for itself, and I hope that his craziness lasts many more decades.