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Thursday, 6 October 2016

Retro Review: Quicksilver (1986)

Cast: Kevin Bacon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jami Gertz, Paul Rodriguez, Louis Anderson
Genre: Drama 
Studio: Columbia Pictures
U.S Box Office Gross: $7,246,979

Plot: A hotshot stock-exchange floor trader, Jack loses his shirt and becomes a bicycle messenger in a hilly city 

'Not As Horrific As Kevin Bacon Calls It, But Not Great Either'

Kevin Bacon's career began in the early 1980s with some notable hits in Diner and the biggie, Footloose, which propelled him to stardom. His theatrical follow-up to Footloose in the mid-eighties was not the immediate success that it was and became one of his - and probably still reigns as his biggest flop to date. 

Kevin Bacon called this the worst movie he has made - I, for one, don't think it was that bad. It has its faults for sure, but it has a few interesting things I liked about it.

The first 20 mins or so of Quicksilver plays out almost like the last 20 mins of Trading Places. He plays a commodity trader named Jack Casey working for the New York Stock Exchange who loses it all, thus disappointing his parents and basically drops out of college and goes from the highest of times to the lowest of times, which includes losing his parents money. A year or so later, after years of bad decisions that further wiped out his family's life savings, he purchases a used bike & takes up a job working for a messenger delivery service and peddles away, much to his parents and girlfriend's chagrin. A female colleague, Terri then becomes a target of a drug dealer named Gypsy, who wants to enslave her as a prostitute. When Jack later re-emerges in the stock trading business, his friends turn to crime and the Gypsy turns his attention to them. It's pretty cool to see the various shots of the places he rides to across the city, thanks to the impressive cinematography. Though the plot in ditching the business suit and high-end career for a low- end job is somewhat unrealistic, it's more about doing a job you love because you are passionate about it. 

It is an example of how fast things can change, as well as go in the real world. The Flashdance-esque dance scene with the bike was a little corny but at the same time interesting to watch, music is horrendous and the pacing of the film is good. The transformation from oil-slick haired, dodgy moustache- looking Jack to young medium hair, baby-faced Kevin Bacon, Jack without the 'tache, was curious. Can't picture him working as a biker with that 'tache remaining on his face, really.  

The scene where they do lots of freestyle tricks with the bikes was cool to see. Bacon's performance was good, given the negative reputation this film has received and his chase sequence duel with Laurence Fishburne was interesting to see. After Lawrence Fishburne's character is killed off, Jack goes to exact his buddy's revenge and goes after the Gypsy. The story wasn't too deep, but for considerable periods of the movie, aspects of the narrative were wearisome. When it tries to be a serious drama is when the film actually suffers as it incoherent, sloppy, lacks genuine tension and the story just wasn't engrossing.   

I see to it that this movie is seen as something of a joke because it was lauded as being so terrible. Simply put, the ending is cheesy and characters and story-lines are brought up, only to get dropped and picked up again. Continuity-wise with the story, it is a mess and so disconnected. The stock trading scenes didn't thrill me one bit. Right towards the end, the film then degenerates into a serial killer- type confrontation between Jack and bad guy, Gypsy in the car. This part was entertaining to watch and the scenes were good, although I'd liked to have seen Louie Anderson's character riding his bike more often. 

I know this was the mid-1980s, but the director should have made the movie, & especially the story more inviting and entertaining, as well as less corny. 

Overall, it has a pedestrian feel to it that is also predictable. Quicksilver would have been even worse without Kevin Bacon - & he hates this film! As Jack, he lights up the screen with his presence and an okay performance that isn't heavy-handed but still does its job well. 

Final Verdict:

The story may not be memorable, but it is Kevin Bacon who makes this melodrama a tad watchable. But for the biking sequences and the climatic finale, everything else seems so pedestrian and stale.  

Quicksilver is not as horrific as Kevin Bacon calls it, but it is far from and by no means one of his best ever movies he's starred in. 


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