Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Hard Way

Movie Name: The Hard Way
Year of Release: 1991
Director: John Badham
Starring: Michael J. Fox, James Woods, Annabella Sciorra, Stephen Lang, John Capodice, Luis Guzman, LL Cool J, Penny Marshall, Delroy Lindo, Christina Ricci, George Cheung
Genre: Comedy, Action
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Underrated director John Badham started the 90s with a somewhat lackluster film, "Bird on a Wire", but quickly bounced back with the hilarious "The Hard Way". The film follows the story of Nick Lang, a Hollywood movie star who is desperately trying to change his public persona, and be taken more seriously as an actor. When an edgy role as a police officer/detective comes up, he arranges to be partnered with an actual police officer, the high strung John Moss. Moss is in the midst of trying to solve a case focused on a serial killer by the name of "Party Crasher". Much to his disgust, his boss orders him to show Nick police procedures, something he tries to sabotage at every chance he gets. In the meantime the killer looms closer, and Nick's presence ends up affecting Moss' life more than he anticipated.
Veteran director John Badham has worked steadily since the early 70's, but made a bigger splash towards the end of that decade with the well known "Saturday Night Fever". The 80s were quite busy for him, with such titles as "War Games" and "Stakeout" both of which did quite well commercially and critically. "The Hard Way", written by Lem Dobbs (who usually works with Steven Soderbergh) and Daniel Pyne, manages to mix comedy and action in a way that is both intelligent and exciting. In a way the film is a tamer version of what John McTiernan's "The Last Action Hero" turned out to be, but in this case, we have a very funny Michael J. Fox playing a version of a movie star, trying to be artistic, and essentially gain credibility for his research and "method". James Woods on the other hand, plays the character with his usual trademarks, namely his intensity and machine-gun style of verbal delivery. It makes for a very funny pairing, particularly due to Fox's innocence and enthusiasm. It's a film that though following the formula of many of the action films from the early 90s (such as Tony Scott's "The Last Boy Scout", Renny Harlin's "Die Hard 2" to name but a few), still manages to captivate and entertain much due to the dynamic of the actors, the impeccable timing of the script, and the quality of production (Donald McAlpine's cinematography is always impeccable). The supporting cast doesn't have much to do, but Annabella Sciorra , Penny Marshall and Stephen Lang are always fantastic. An entertaining film worth watching.