Sometimes a car crash or six just doesn’t seem to cut it and the need to see bullets flying fast and furious comes over me quicker than Jack Bauer can order a cornered terrorist to “Stand down!”
I can only assume that we’ve all been there. Otherwise pretty much every Schwarzenegger movie outside of “Twins,” (shudder), “Junior” (double shudder) and “Jingle All the Way” (me convulsing on the floor as someone tries to shove a pencil in my mouth so I don’t bite my tongue off), would have been Hollywood duds.
Instead they soared.
Let’s face it, Arnold’s no actor. Governor, maybe, but honestly, his idea of expressing a deep thought on screen is “Crush your enemies. See them driven before you and to hear the lamentations of the women.” It took about three minutes for him to spit this one out in his best in life “speech” as Conan, but directors quickly got around his Austrian accent with beauties like “I’ll be back,” “If it bleeds we can kill it” and “Hasta la vista, baby.”
I could go on and on about the Gov. and probably (OK, definitely) will at a later date. But then where would that leave other fine bullet flicks? Missing the proverbial (and absolutely cliché) bull’s-eye for this edition, that’s where.
So without further fanfare, here are some smoking guns…
• “Red Dawn” (1984) Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson and Charlie Sheen go head to head with Russians and Cubans — you know, Communists — who have declared war on America. The kicker is most of the band of insurgents are high school students, aka “Wolverines!,” who routinely outwit highly trained military personnel throughout this Cold War gem. And while the acting and plot are pure cubic zirconium, with lines like “Don’t cry!” and “Let it turn,” it’s a diamond in the rough. It was actually designated by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the most violent movie ever, bullet and explosion wise. I’m sure this has since been usurped by the growing number flicks that put misplaced entertainment value on gratuitous torture and mutilation. Sick. That stuff’s better left on the studio’s cutting room floor.
• “True Lies” (1994) OK, so it’s Schwarzenegger. He’s about as unavoidable in this sub-genre as telling your significant other the crappy meatloaf he or she spent two hours cooking is “great.” Secret agent and terrorist plot foiler Arnie must lie consistently to his wife Jamie Leigh Curtis in order to protect her from merchants of menace. Director James Cameron tackles his action-packed double life with good natured humor and adds annoying sidekick Tom Arnold (and honestly, I cannot think of a more annoying sidekick) to the bullet ridden fray for comic relief, which he pulls off masterfully. This one is just plain fun to watch. Great direction, perfect casting. A real blast.
• “The Matrix” (1999) True, Keanu Reeves topped his career as an actor when he picked up a guitar and jammed with Bill S. Preston, Esq. as a front man for Wyld Stallyns in 1999, but even his sub par “acting” couldn’t sink such a cool movie. The concept alone is awesome but it would take pages (possibly years to explore). In a nutshell, humans are being used like batteries by machines, which have created an alternate, computer-generated reality known as the Matrix. With me? Good. A select few know this and are out to rout their robotic overlords.
There are a few scenes in this one where bullets fly thicker than seagulls at the dump. Throw in Laurence Fishburne and Hugo “Hello, Mr. Anderson” Weaving to balance things out and you end up with a unique movie experience whose sequels couldn’t live up to the original.