Broken Arrow (1996)
Too Broken to Woo You
Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons? - Deakins
The best way for me to describe "Broken Arrow" is to use the title of another, more superior movie that of "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" because it contains elements of each. In fact you could say it is entertaining, stupid and friggin' awful because the various elements try to combine but end up making a less than spectacular movie.
Sent on a routine night time training mission flying a stealth bomber over a national park things go wrong when Major Vic Deakins (John Travolta - Grease) tries to kill his co pilot Captain Riley Hale (Christian Slater - Murder in the First) so he can steal the nuclear arms they are carrying and hold the government to ransom. With Hale ejected before Deakins manages to offload the weapons it seems that Deakins cunning plan may work, but he didn't account for Hale who didn't die and with park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis - Little Women) set about stopping Deakins before he manages to get the weapons out of the park.
The good part of "Broken Arrow" is that with John Woo at the directional helm it is full of his trademark touches, the big action sequences coupled with slow motion flourishes. Right from the opening shots as a we descend from above a boxing ring surrounded by complete darkness we get a glimpse of the visual styling to expect through out. It all works well and John Woo is one of the best exponents of slapping slow motion into an action scene to make it entertaining. Couple this with the Hans Zimmer/ Duane Eddy instrumental piece which would go on to be used in "Scream 2" and there is a side to "Broken Arrow" which is very good.
But then you come to the bad which is the storyline about a military pilot deciding to steal nuclear weapons. It's far fetched often overly contrived nonsense which borders on the outright stupid. In a way you don't mind it being contrived but at times it feels like it's being written on the fly as if they suddenly decided to throw another twist into the mix to make it more exciting and to seem clever, which it certainly isn't. The trouble is that it becomes so far fetched that any attempts to build tension and atmosphere are lost because of the stupidity, leaving the action sequences to wow you, which thankfully for the most they do.
And then there is the awful and that is the combination of corny as hell dialogue and the performances. Out of the three performances Christian Slater does a decent job of making his character Riley Hale interesting and someone to side with but he is over shadowed by John Travolta playing the arrogant, psychotic bad guy Deakins. The trouble with Travolta's performance is that he plays the character too cool, to confident and arrogant turning him into an almost cartoon baddie. Plus there is Samantha Mathis as ranger Terry Carmichael who over acts her way through almost every scene, shame because Mathis and Slater worked so well together in "Pump up the Volume" but together here it just doesn't work.
None of them are helped by the corny dialogue they have to try to deliver, which may explain the over acting. But it is at times banal at other times comical which ends up making me wonder whether "Broken Arrow" was meant to be taken seriously as a clever stylish action movie or as a comedy action movie. Which ever the dialogue is at times awful and ruins the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Broken Arrow" is visually entertaining but if you pay attention to the storyline, dialogue and performances then you will quickly become disappointed. It's all a shame as the idea is good, the director is great but combined with everything else well let's just say it's less than brilliant.
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