Some film historian could write a book about The Last Boy Scout, the outrageous action flick from 1991. It’s a film legendary for its troubled production, with no less than four Hollywood egos clashing while it was made.
There was screenwriter Shane Black, who had been paid almost two million bucks for the script; director Tony Scott, who was in the midst of his peak as a blockbuster filmmaker; star Bruce Willis, who was in need of a hit after Hudson Hawk underperformed and The Bonfire of the Vanities absolutely bombed; and producer Joel Silver, part of whose legend involves massive amounts of cocaine. Silver was such a pain in the neck that when Scott later directed True Romance, he based the character of Lee Donowitz on Silver. Reportedly, Silver was not pleased. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: The Last Boy Scout”
Beware films made with the full cooperation of the United States’ military. Without fail, such films are heavy on the heroics and jingoism, and do little to portray the full costs of war, and life in the military. Oftentimes, they are little more than recruiting films, pieces of propaganda aimed at high school-aged males full of testosterone and lacking direction in their lives. Also, these movies tend to be weighted heavily against showing the day-to-day drudgery that typifies the life of the average enlisted man or woman, reducing them to background automatons. Rather, such films are usually focused on glorified versions of officers and non-coms, their duties also scrubbed clean of anything resembling work. Even that most foul bane of soldiers and sailors everywhere — chickenshit — is almost nonexistent. But, who wants to see any of that, anyway? The American military has the coolest toys in the world, and it’s nice to see where our tax dollars are being spent once in a while, even if the resulting film has all the depth of a puddle. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Top Gun”
Man vs. nature, and by extension, man vs. his own nature. It’s not an uncommon theme in film. Usually it involves the breakdown of a group in an isolated environment, becoming feral, members desperately trying to maintain their humanity. Director and screenwriter Joe Carnahan’s The Grey dispenses with much of the metaphor and instead keeps things simple. Mere survival is the theme here, pitting a group of humans against a pack of wolves.
Set in the Alaskan wilderness, The Grey tells the story of a group of oil industry roughnecks who survive a plane crash on a mountain far away from civilization. Not long after the seven survivors organize themselves enough to get a life-saving fire burning, they discover they are being stalked by wolves. The wolves don’t seem to be interested in hunting the men for food. Rather, they seem intent on just killing them for being in the wrong place.
Led by the grim Ottway (Liam Neeson), a sniper employed by the oil company to protect the roughnecks from wolf attacks back at the camp the men originated from, the film follows the men as they try to escape from the wolves’ territory, their numbers whittled down throughout the course of the film. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: The Grey”