Saturday, 24 August 2013

Broken Arrow (1996)




















One of the first US films for John Woo before he went on to make a whole load more using the same visual style everytime. The other noteable thing here is the curious combination of Travolta and Slater pairing off against each other.

Two best buds in the USAF are flying a B-3 Stealth Bomber with a deadly payload of nukes on board. Spoiler alert! Travolta goes rogue and turns on Slater dumping the nukes for his band of bad guys to pickup. Their plan? to sell the nukes to the highest bidder of course, dastardly!.

I remember when this came out it was deemed to be quite a slick action flick, hell I even went to the cinema to see it. This is the first time I've watched this since 1996 and I can firmly say it hasn't aged well. Yep its just your average explosion filled action thriller with your standard hero who saves the day and kills everyone with the aid of a feisty female sidekick.

The bad guys are your regular bunch of strapping blokes who mindlessly obey Travolta's insane commands, the main henchman being newbie Howie Long (film career didn't last long). All these guys are trigger happy, often dumb and get killed in very obvious set pieces you can see coming a mile away.

In fact the whole film is much like that really, it just looks like one of those special effects shows at Universal Studios where everything looks like a setup or an obvious set. There isn't really anything original in the whole film, the plot is standard issue, the bad guys are standard issue, all the important military/government official types are the standard issue grizzled old men, slimy cowards or nerds, dialog is hammy with all the regular dribble you'd expect to hear and its got lots of standard issue John Woo slow motion and face off camera angles.

Not even Travolta's semi fun bad guy can bring this film back from the dull zone. This was his first real baddie role after his career took off with 'Pulp Fiction' so his performance was definitely fresh and quite new for the actor. Its just a shame he's done the same thing now for so many other films since. As for Slater, well he doesn't really fit the profile for a leading man action hero, he's clearly not the type, he's not bad per say, he's just clearly not that type of guy simple. Even with Travolta being all camp he still looks like he can kick Slater's ass all over.

A terrific film title, intriguing cast and thumping film poster still can't alter the fact this film is dull dull dull. It doesn't even look that good really, there is one stunt where Long gets booted off a train going over a very high bridge which is pretty impressive, but that's totally it. The drab looking location doesn't really help either, its all yellow dusty desert terrain everywhzzzzzzzz. If anything can be called 'by the numbers' its this film right here, weak stuff.

3/10