Film Review: Hard Rain (1998)

Also known as: The Flood (working title)
Release Date: January 16th, 1998
Directed by: Mikael Salomon
Written by: Graham Yost
Music by: Christopher Young
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver, Edward Asner, Richard Dysart, Betty White, Ricky Harris

UGC-PH, Tele-Munchen, BBC, Nordisk Film, Marubeni, Toho, PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Mutual Film Company, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, 96 Minutes

Review:

“Look! We just want the money! You guys can walk away, we won’t kill you!” – Jim

This film has more studios, distributors and countries involved in its creation than I have ever seen. Okay, maybe not ever but there is a whole shit ton of people behind this little action movie.

It also has a pretty big cast for a movie about a town vacated due to massive flooding. But the big cast of characters was actually a benefit as this movie has so many twists, turns and character morality shifts that at its core, this is very much film-noir.

Christian Slater plays an armored truck guard. He and his older mentor, played by Edward Asner, get stuck in the flood waters as they are transporting three million dollars from the small town’s bank to safety. They are quickly overcome by a group of thieves, led by Morgan Freeman. Asner’s character is killed in the initial confrontation but Slater escapes and hides the money away in a tomb. As the water rises further, Slater is on the run from Freeman’s gang, who have acquired boats and jet skis to more easily navigate the flooded city streets.

The town is also protected by a three man police force led by Randy Quaid. They seem like a heroic lot but as the film progresses and greed takes over the hearts of nearly everyone in the film, we see the worst come out in those tasked with keeping the peace.

Minnie Driver is thrown into the film because you need eye candy and someone for the hero to try and hook up with. You also have an elderly couple who stayed behind, played by the great Betty White and Richard Dysart. There is also the town’s dam operator, played by Wayne Duvall.

Hard Rain is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know it isn’t a good movie but it is great, mindless fun for ninety minutes. The action is good, there are a lot of layers to the story and there really isn’t a dull moment. I can’t say that the script is good either but at least the plot moves swiftly, offers up some decent surprises and is interesting enough to keep one engaged.

The highlight of the film is the three male leads, all of whom played their parts well and seemed to be having fun with the material.

This is a quintessential ’90s mid-budget action picture. It doesn’t try to do too much and stays pretty grounded in reality. The premise made for an ambitious picture, especially in regards to how much water was needed to create the scenes, but it never felt over the top or ridiculous. The shootout inside the church is marvelously executed and still looks good today.

This is just a fun movie with a good cast that I have to revisit once in awhile.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Broken Arrow, another Christian Slater action film from the same era.

Film Review: Lucy (2014)

Release Date: July 25th, 2014 (US)
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson
Music by: Eric Serra
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked

EuropaCorp, TF1 Films Production, Canal+, Universal Pictures, 90 Minutes

Review:

I went into this film anticipating having problems with it. I did.

It is no secret, even from just watching the trailer, that this film is chock-full of really bad science. Actually, atrocious science.

You see, the whole film rides on the plot point that human beings only use 10 percent of their brain. The film explores what would happen if human beings could use more than that or even reach 100 percent, which is what does happen in the end of this film.

Why is this bad science? Well, you should already know the answer to that but if you don’t, the 10 percent thing is a myth and it is a misunderstanding of the fact that only about 10 percent of a brain’s cells are neurons. Neurons are the important working bits of your brain. You do use them all. The other 90 percent of your brain is made up of glial cells that act as a support system for the neurons. So the other 90 percent supports the 10 percent and thus, you are already using 100 percent of your brain. How this myth became “fact” to many people is kind of astounding but when we live in a world where people get their information from memes and Twitter, you can see the problem.

But I get that it is supposed to be just some mindless action film. Right?… Right?

Well, not really.

The film starts to take itself too seriously, as it comes across as if it is trying to show how smart of a film it is conceptually. I can only assume that the director Luc Besson has never picked up a science book in his life, as this feels like it was inspired from a conversation between two burnouts stoned out of their everliving minds. And not only does he not know how the brain works, he also doesn’t know jack shit about matter. This is important to point out, as matter manipulation becomes a major plot point.

It kind of disappoints me that Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson would even touch this script, let alone do this film. Maybe they just wanted to work with Besson, whose early work was pretty stellar. He has kind of fallen from his earlier grace.

If this film had just been a straight up action film with Johansson as a bad ass, it would’ve probably been pretty good. Hell, it could’ve played like a Black Widow solo film. Instead, it played like a film written by a middle schooler that was able to get a decent budget. Then again, the CGI bounced back from really good to shitty from scene-to-scene so maybe the budget went over somewhere.

From an acting standpoint, Morgan Freeman was typical Morgan Freeman. Scarlett Johansson was good at times but once her brain power started increasing, she just stared off into space like a zombie and tilted her head every ten seconds like a puppy hearing a weird sound.

I tried to ignore the bad science and even when I did, the film was just so pitiful that it didn’t really matter.

“Hey, bro! You gotta suspend disbelief!”

“How? By only using 10 percent of my brain?”