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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Retro Review: Broken Arrow (1996)

Broken Arrow
Cast: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Frank Whaley, Bob Gunton, Kurtwood Smith
Genre: Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $150 million

Plot: Terrorists steal nuclear warheads from the U.S military, but don't count on a pilot and park ranger spoiling their plans

'Banal Action Film That Is Broken In Many Pieces'

A military based action flick, it is, unfortunately, yet another in the line of John Woo's Western efforts that underwhelm after the amazing Hard Target and misses the mark in more ways than one. From the casting and unconvincing turns by everyone but for say, John Travolta as the antagonist to the diluted and dumbed down action that hardly impresses, Broken Arrow is a huge misfire from the usually well-renowned Hong Kong director. And for an action film, strangely, it is also a bore. 

Co-pilot Riley Hale and stealth fighter pilot Vic Deakins are being tasked with a B-3 stealth bomber that comes with it two nuclear missiles. But Deakins has a secret plan in stealing the bombs & demanding a huge sum of money in return. 

I used to enjoy it when I saw it on TV in the mid-1990s, but it's again one of those films that haven't held up well. Revisiting it today, it's unreal how almost all of it is just so bland, tame and unimpressive.

Christian Slater doesn't strike me as an action star, whatsoever. He didn't look convincing in Hard Rain and he made for a terrible invisible man baddie in Hollow Man 2, the direct to DVD follow-up to the Paul Verhoeven movie - minus Kevin Bacon. & he didn't convince me as the good guy here. Plus, he was bland. Samantha Mathis is terribly miscast, out-of-place and she didn't do much in the role that was sufficient enough. If it had to be a done deal to have a female character in this movie, then the casting crew should have done a better job in hiring someone else other than Mathis, who is one of those actresses who hasn't blown up, big time due to poor and lacklustre film choices. John Travolta, now whilst he did it better in Face/Off, Woo's follow-up film that was also the last best performance and movie of his, before his decline, here his character was also a bit too annoying. Both he, Kurtwood Smith and Delroy Lindo were all wasted here, but Mathis and Slater could have been so easily replaced by other - and better actors who would have offered more. They just don't gel well together & nor do they look like a solid pairing, whatsoever and their performances come off looking stiff. The onscreen love chemistry they have for one another was odd and it didn't come through at all. 

Written by Graham Yost, who was also responsible for Speed - a movie that didn't have much substance yet in Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves they added extra watchability and it was still a good film -, Mission to Mars (not so good) and Hard Rain (unmemorable), Broken Arrow relies on the standard action movie formula but removing all of the great qualities and replacing it with sub-standard action that is not very good and is the quality seen in many other straight to DVD action B-movies. It still has the slo-mo shots of characters flying about, which is a trademark of Woo's films. The characters have either plastic personas or are devoid of personality.

As far as expensive action movies go, and expensive this was to make, the lack of action makes it incredibly disappointing. But even the action itself underwhelms with bombs going off and there is little in the way of fighting and is weak. The story is arduously long and there is too much dialogue with scenes whereby little is happening. 

Broken Arrow is broken all right, but it also has no depth. & with that in mind, this is a feeble excuse for an action film. 

Final Verdict:

Broken Arrow is an action B-movie with a slightly flashier actor in John Travolta and slightly flashier director, John Woo. & yet it is still hackneyed throughout. Though for me, the bigger culprits are Slater, Mathis and the action itself, which is not good enough, along with a dreary screenplay by Yost. And as underwhelming as the script is, they truly brought this film down and made it less enjoyable for me and more of a chore to sit through. 

Lower-tier John Woo effort, this has a straight- to- DVD feel, despite its high budget and Woo has done better. Far better. Yet Broken Arrow comes off looking as corny and trifling. 

Stick to Hard Boiled, Hard Target, Face/Off, The Killer & A Better Tomorrow for your Woo Fix.



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