After directing Chuck Norris’ best movie (Code of Silence), Andrew Davis made Steven Seagal’s best (and first) movie. Seagal is Nico Toscani, a Chicago detective out to bust corrupt CIA assassins. Davis stages the shoot-outs and brawls crisply; here, and perhaps only here, you watch Seagal’s moves and see why Hollywood thought he could be a movie star. (He was for a while, before he became a joke.) Seagal, an aikido master and former bodyguard to the stars, relies more heavily on dodging and economy of motion than on simple punching and kicking. As usual in Davis films, the Chicago locations are convincing and lived-in, and the solid supporting cast includes the feral Henry Silva as a despicable CIA interrogator, Pam Grier as Nico’s partner, and Sharon Stone as his wife. Look quick for Michael Rooker in the early barroom scene. Cinematography by Robert Steadman; score by David Michael Frank; sharp editing by Michael Brown. Seagal’s next was Hard to Kill; Davis’s was The Package. The director and star would team up again in ’92 for Seagal’s second-best movie, Under Siege.
Archive for April 1988
It appears to have been made to be shown in high-school classes as a warning against suicide. Alan Boyce is David, a music student with everything going for him: talent, acceptance into an elite music school, popularity, two girlfriends (Jennifer Rubin and Pamela Gidley), loving parents (Kathy Baker and Barry Corbin), and a rock band with his best buddy Chris (Keanu Reeves). But he throws it all away; he jumps off a cliff during a party, and everyone assumes it was an accident until Chris discovers the truth. The second half of the movie is basically everyone dealing with David’s suicide and asking the big “why?” (Points to the film for not definitively answering it; we get hints along the way, though.) This isn’t much more than a conscientious TV-movie drama, with a rather maudlin climax, but the performances are solid (including Keanu’s, surprisingly), and Gen-Xers who caught it back in ’88 probably have a soft spot for it. Music buff alert: Joe Strummer did the incidental score, and Lou Reed has a cameo near the beginning.