Thursday, 14 August 2008

No.20 : Wanted : Dead Or Alive

Wanted : Dead or Alive at the IMDb

I thought I had fond memories of this 1987 Rutger Hauer action flick, but after a minute I realised that I’d confused it with the vastly superior ‘Night Hawks’. In ‘Night Hawks’ Hauer played the baddie terrorist being chase by Sylvester Stallone, in this he is the good guy chasing Gene Simmons out of Kiss. You do the math!

With only the lead character’s surname and profession retained from the western TV series of the same name which starred Steve McQueen, it beggars belief why they bought the rights. Well maybe they had them anyway, if so it’s a real waste of a decent premise. Rutger Hauer plays a cool bounty hunter who can take down red necks in bars as easy as pie. Things hot up when for no given reason, apart from being the baddies, a group of “rag heads” blow up a cinema showing ‘Rambo ‘ - merciful release you might say.

Rather than use the considerable resources of the LAPD and FBI Benson chooses to hire Rutger to save the day. Unbeknownst to Benson and Rutger the pen pushers at the office have set our man up to bait a trap that he narrowly escapes. After wasting a load of time following Rutger about, we enter endgame when the terrorists blow up his boat containing his girlfriend and best friend who was sent there as a decoy.

With only a call needed to get the terrorists’ address, Rutger is on the case and hopefully in time to stop a chemical plant attack and any more bad acting from Gene Simmons. After some laughable beat downs which include sliding a man in a wardrobe down some stairs, Rutger gets the plans and is at last on his way to the inevitable showdown.

This was a really dreadful 107 minutes. I like Rutger Hauer but as this movie proved he’s aces as a baddie and a charisma bypass as a hero. His ‘witty’ one liners are so obviously scripted that they might as well had the cue cards up on screen. The action sequences were pretty poor and the whole thing had a TV movie look about it.

Far too much of the film was spent on squabbles within the police department with precious little shown of the terrorist plot. Although this had the blessing of reducing Gene Simmons’ screen time it did look daft as the final act was shoe horned into the last ten minutes of an otherwise bloated run time.

I had no empathy at all for Rutger’s character and his emotional turmoil at the responsibility of killing the two people closest to him lasted about three frames.

You could argue in the current climate the film is as relevant now as ever but until we see gangs of Arabs running around shooting AK47’s in downtown LA I think it can stay shelved. Sadly the real terrorists have much more imagination than the writers of this cliché ridden, action free drivel.

Best Bit : “Fuck the bonus!”
‘W’ Score : 12/23

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