Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wanted: Dead Or Alive


  'Rutger Hauer' as I was telling my friend, sounds like, and should probably be a brand name for big powerful guns.

  "Hey man, you take the Smith & Wesson, I want the Rutger Hauer."

  See? Has a damn good ring to it.  The actor himself is about as cool as any big powerful gun you could get your hands on too. Who else votes he should go into the firearms business? And name the company after himself? *raises hand* And after this movie, I don't think anyone would argue with me.

  Hauer plays a clever and well equipped L.A. Bounty Hunter named Nick Randall in pursuit of a terrorist who' wreaking havoc all over the city.  For those familiar with it, it's hard not to see a little bit of The Punisher in this character. The guns, the bleak military past, the black attire. It's pretty easy actually. Even the plot and pacing is not unlike a Punisher story, though people might relate this more to Dirty Harry even though Randall isn't a cop, the movie is swarming with police and FBI. Often seen as backbiting and manipulative, Nick knows how to swerve in and out of their control like a snake. A lot of the movie is devoted to him actually struggling with the police. Car chases, and decoys. Anything to lose the tail and keep them off his back while he blazes a trail through the criminal underworld looking for this terrorist.

  It's a pretty solid story to be honest and was quite fun to watch.  The characters themselves are surprisingly well developed, and... spoilers... it's all that more shocking when you see people get killed off you never thought would die. And it's so unexpected you might actually stare in total disbelief. I don't remember the last time a movie caught me off guard so badly.  It was a real shock.  And for this alone I can urge you to see this movie. It's well made.  And it doesn't 'Rambo' the picture up, it's at first in tone with something like 'Road House', nothing like it, but tonally they're similar, but as the movie progresses it becomes rather bleak and somber. When the movie ends, our lone hero sits on the side of the road and plays a few notes on his harmonica before the subtle musical score takes over and the movie fades to black. 

  For a rather care free movie that won't be remembered for much other than the awesome loft where Nick lives, it was suprisingly impactful.  It's not just a one note flick that tries to grab your attention with explosions bigger than alot of larger titles (i.e. Rambo, Commando, Die Hard etc.) instead it develops it's characters to a point where you care about them, and it peppers the movie with clever and legitimately cool little neat-o scenes.  For example, a scene where Randall locks a suspect in a metal cabinet and interrogates him by shooting random holes into it with a shotgun. It's played out so well, you can't help but be on the edge of your seat a little. 

   The movie really shines in these little moments of coolness, it has no need to be one long consistently loud shootout. Not until the end at least. And in whatever small measure this 80's action flick allows, it shows that the protagonist is a thinking man.  In so many movies of the time, the hero is either a complete and total everyman like John Mclane (Bruce Willis in Die Hard), or he's a steroided superman like John Matrix (Schwarzenegger in Commando) but rare is it that we get a happy medium.

  Rutger Hauer's Nick Randall has the on-screen presense and coolness of a Terminator-like badass, yet has the realistic gravitas of a more realer person with real problems and relationships. He has a best friend, and is in a steady relationship and the movie's playground battlefield, is his life. No matter how much he's shooting bad guys and breaking bones in their own houses or stopping convinience store robberies  out on the street, so to speak,  his own life more often than not is what truly falls casualty to the violent proceedings.

   For such a simple movie, there's quite alot to sink your teeth into.  Rutger Hauer brings Nick Randall to life as only he can, and the supporting cast is just as great and full of familiar faces.  I really recommend you see this movie if you want an action movie with a little more heart and brain rather than just bigger action. It knows that it's action and stuff is standard fare. The action set pieces themselves can be found bigger and better elsewhere. It's full aware of this. And this is exactly why it gave a little more love to the meat of the characters and the story. And like I've said, sprinkled exceptionally cool little moments throughout.
Very fun flick.

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