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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Retro Review: Metro (1997)

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Michael Rappaport, Michael Wincott, Kim Miyori, Art Evans, Carmen Ejogo
Genre: Action Comedy Thriller 
U.S Lifetime Gross: $32 million

Plot: San Francisco hostage negotiator, Scott Roper is partnered with rookie Kevin McCall. While Scott is trying to win back his girlfriend, Ronnie Tate, he and Kevin are called into a jewellery store where psychotic Michael Korda has taken hostages. They manage to capture him - but soon Michael escapes from jail and kidnaps Ronnie as Revenge. Despite officially being taken off the case, Scott and Kevin go after the dangerous criminal

'Surprisingly Solid Action Thriller & Role From Eddie Murphy Where He Doesn't Become Axel Foley Overnight'

Metro is yet again another in a long line of movies that people have trounced to death and received a bad reception from all quarters, which I have enjoyed watching. For a typical action thriller, there isn't entirely much wrong with it, contrary to the critics. Since its release in 1997, it grew in favour and has become a cult B- movie status action movie. Metro is also knowingly the last or was the last real action movie Eddie has starred in, as he has since turned his attentions to family movies. In particular, the Shrek franchise and comedies that have been a mixed bag, altogether. 

Eddie Murphy plays the cool, calm & collective San Francisco hostage negotiator/cop, Scott Roper, who goes out of his way to seek revenge against a jewel thief (Michael Wincott of Strange Days) who has killed his friend, Lieutenant Sam during a heist that went wrong. This plot-line is virtually identical to the one in Beverly Hills Cop 3 where Axel Foley's chief is shot dead, and he goes far and beyond to nail the culprit responsible.  

Audiences expect him to turn up in every movie he's in, playing the same motormouth role - but when he doesn't they start dismissing this movie, saying it is no proper Eddie vehicle. I liked that though it is a cop movie just like with Beverly Hills Cop, this movie feels and comes across as being different and tries to distinguish itself from that film. I'm glad that Eddie didn't play it like Axel Foley, but played it like and as Scott Roper, who I find as interesting as a character as Detroit's finest from BHC. Metro's initial opening credits and presentation has a more stylish and sleeker design and feels less comical in tone. 

As Scott Roper, he is more hands-on, more serious and not as energetic as he was in his previous efforts in Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs movies but in this film, he can still kick ass with a solid and decent performance that, and along with his fun side, his humourous antics are a lot less toned down and that he is a lot less hyper, but yet he still comes across as a cool guy. Eddie's confidence grows in stature as the film develops. I also like his actual physical appearance as Scott, it definitely suited Eddie and I dig the corn-rolls. He goes to show that not only can he kick it as a comedic cop in Axel, when he plays it straight and serious, Eddie Murphy is good as that too. 

The tone of the film itself feels a lot less like BHC but it's not overly dark; there are some light moments but compared to BHC it's not of the same reverenceThe violence is not that strong (which is why I dispute the questionable 18 rating in the UK; at most it should have been rated 15), but it turns the film up a notch compared to BHC. The action here feels more intense and slightly darker. There were a few scenes that I felt could have been trimmed down or taken out, because I didn't care much for them and it felt much like filler material, such as when Scott and his partner are at a race track. 

Michael Wincott's performance as the villain, Mike is predictable but he still is good at playing the bad guy, who is as repulsive as his turn in Strange Days, in this film, regardless who knows Scott's strategy, inside- out. There is a nice romantic subplot developing with Ronnie, Scott's British on/off girlfriend who is dating a baseball player, and Scott himself. She of whom later gets kidnapped by the villain, who threatens to end her life and Scott has to rescue her. The relationship angle could have been handled far better, but I liked Scott and Ronnie together. 

The script and story are not that special, but rather very cliched and predictable with familiar surroundings. But the rest of the film is watchable and entertaining at times, even if it is generic. Michael Rappaport as Scott's rookie partner was not half bad, but he was not that effective as a supporting character.

The action scenes were pretty good and the last half hour was intense at times, but also not lacking in entertainment. I think that had it had a better supporting cast, even with the not so strong narrative, I would enjoy Metro far more than I did. 

Final Verdict:

Metro is a solid action effort  - if predictable, cliched & average cop movie but with a performance by Eddie Murphy that is slightly- and just slightly in a different league to Axel Foley. Whilst the movie and its premise isn't entirely strong overall and it needed a bit more work going into it, it does have some interesting scenes and the action is very good.  

I know it bombed badly on its release back in 1997, but I still found it enjoyable and entertaining. 

If you're expecting Eddie to go into Axel Foley mode, you're in for a surprise; however, if you want similar action thrills as that movie and just accept that Eddie is playing a different type of action character, then this makes a nice addition to your comedy action movie thriller or Eddie Murphy collection. 


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