Last Man Standing -1996-


Directed by Walter Hill. 101 mins.

 Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on DVD)

 Aside from committing the sin of literally spoiling the ending in the title, Last Man Standing was pretty damn fun. While I have yet to see Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (the film of which LMS is credited as a remake), this stands as a solid portion of the Hillmography.

 Many critics panned Last Man Standing at the time of its release, dismissing it as depressing and joyless. Granted, it ain’t exactly Miracle in Milan, but I’m not sure what the critics are whining about. The humor is black, but it’s certainly there. Think Miller’s Crossing if it were directed by Robert Rodriguez, and you’ll have a general idea of the film’s tone. The action is Peckinpah-level brutal, and the locales are bone dry, just the way I like ‘em.

 Willis is passable as the film’s mysterious antihero, but the main attraction are the supporting players. Bruce Dern is haggard per usual as the town sheriff, and David Patrick Kelly is great as the short-fused Irish kingpin with a temper right up there with Philip Seymour Hoffman in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. As another surprising bonus, a super-young Leslie Mann appears as a “woman of ill repute.” And just like in her Apatow films, she never shuts up!

 The star of the show may very well be Christopher Walken as Hickey, the borderline-psychotic mob enforcer. Hill is smart and treats Walken like thespian wasabi, making sure not to overuse him. His character doesn’t even show up until the film’s second half, and he’s a man of few words whenever he’s onscreen. I love it when reeling in screen-hogging actors pays off (kinda like De Niro in Jackie Brown).

 – More Ry Cooder, yay!

Next up in the Hillmography: Supernova.

(Seen and originally written on 2013-02-18)

Runaway Train -1985-


Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. 111 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on DVD)

A super-intense thriller. I didn’t think it was the classic that many critics regard it to be, but it was still a huge jump above most of these sorts of movies. In someone else’s hands, this could be straight-up Steven Seagal fare. Luckily, the direction is brutal with minimal filler, and Voight and Robert… well, they have screen presence. It’s not that their performances are bad, but they’re at such a contanst fever-pitch that I could see some people getting turned off (others will love it). Eric Roberts continues to confuse me. He strikes the perfect balance between pompous toughguy and whiny bitch*, and the end result is strangely addictive.

PS: Disaster thrillers are great because not only do they channel our fears of technology and human error, but they also serve as a big “fuck you” to our bosses in the workplace. When was the last time the boss back at the control center in one of these movies actually had a constructive idea? No, it’s always the under-appreciated underlings. Let’s hear it for the techies!

(Watched and originally written during Summer 2010 when I was on a real movie bender)

*Wouldn’t have been my choice of words had I written this in the present day, but that’s what I decided to write in 2010. I no longer use dehumanizing terms in casual discourse, but I’m not going to redact my past.