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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Retro Review: D.O.A (1988)

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek 
Genre: Crime-Thriller 
U.S Box Office Gross: over $12, 7 million 

Plot: Time is running out for Dexter Cornell: he has just 24 hours to find out who poisoned him.... and why. In his bizarre and deadly search, everyone has a secret. Everyone is a suspect. Even the woman who loves him.

'Laborious Noire- Style Thriller That Isn't Compelling, Nor Suspenseful Enough'

When this film was directed by the same people who did that awful Super Mario Bros live- action movie, based on the video game in 1993, that practically tells you all you need to know with regards to the execution of this thriller, DOA

Being a remake of the classic 1949 film, DOA with the letters being an acronym for Dead On Arrival tries to recreate that 1950s noir feel with the black and white opening. & though it kind of does so, it still left me feeling underwhelmed. 

Dennis Quaid is miscast as the professor, who is an alcoholic, down in the dumps and that his wife wants out of their marriage. He turns to booze and drowns his sorrows -, only to learn he has been poisoned and he has to go out of his way to finding out the culprit behind this evil act. That, and he is also on the run from police. I felt that at times he was over-acting and his portrayal is too melodramatic. This film is just not for him. Oddly enough, Home Alone's Daniel Stern makes an appearance as he plays it straight in his dramatic role, as the friend/colleague turned nemesis. Having seen him as the dim-witted Marv in the comedy, Home Alone as the killer in this film, is a bit kooky, having grown up with Home Alone, as is Malcolm In The Middle's Lois aka Jane Kaczmarek. Meg Ryan also stars, whose character is a bit too ditzy, but then vanishes after the second of the third act.  

The thing with DOA is that this film, much like with Sea of Love is generic, dull, extremely plodding in its pacing - although the film does pick up from the moment Dexter feels the effects of the poisoning in his digestive system-, and nothing about it sets it apart from the many other thrillers. The premise for DOA is actually good, yet its dry, stale, formulaic set-up is tired. The music that plays is heightened by the film's noir-ish undertones -yet it is also both grating and far too abrasive. DOA is convoluted, unimpressive with too many close-up shots that become aggravating as it tries to create that claustrophobic feel. That element of intrigue also dissolves under a heavy beating of drums.

The only scenes I liked were when the Professor discovers his wife being murdered in front of him by a mysterious attacker and the climax towards the end. 

By the end of the film, I didn't care much for Dexter; I felt that character was underdeveloped and there were little signs of progression when it came to character development. As there is no antidote for Dexter, I was a little bemused by how he managed to stay alive, right at the end. 

Also, seeing Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid together, years before they broke up in real life, does tinge in some bitter sweetness. I've never been a staunch fan of Dennis Quaid and though Innerspace was a fun effort and he was quite a show-stealer in Great Balls Of Fire as Jerry Lee Lewis, he has never given a performance in a film that I have thoroughly enjoyed, nor is there a film of his that I have truly revered. 

DOA has its moments and there are a few of them, but in-between all of that, its journey from A to B is laborious and far from believable and compelling. 

Final Verdict:

Just like Sea of Love with Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin, what was good back in the day in the 1980s, DOA just doesn't hold up well in the post- 2000s and I found the tone, atmosphere, well pretty much almost everything about it as being dated. It's not that compelling and there were times where the story was dragging out so much, it made the film an utter chore. 

The colour desaturates over the course of the film as tedium takes effect and the story, despite making some strides, just never materialised to its fullest extent. This is by all accounts a very unremarkable, unimpressive and drab thriller and one that remotely flopped on general release in 1988.

Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan's previous attempt, Innerspace was far more entertaining and fun, compared to this run-of-the-mill, generic and dull affair. In all, DOA existed just to showcase Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan in another on-screen appearance together, as opposed to creating a great remake. 

DOA is a classic case of a film where the filmmakers try every trick in the book, in its homage to noir and still, they want us to feel something for these characters, that they want me to actually resonate and relish these characters.

Lamentably, I just don't. 


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