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   BROKEN ARROW (1996) 

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CAST
John Travolta
Christian Slater
Samantha Mathis
Delroy Lindo
Howie Long
Frank Whaley

DIRECTED BY
John Woo

PURCHASE


DVD



Soundtrack




Time: 108 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Adventure


Right up front...one should always be wary of films co-starring ex-athletes, whether they're just playing one of the bad guys henchmen or not. It just shows that no decent actor wanted the part. As many actors have portrayed through film history, you don't have to be big to be mean – remember Hannibal Lecter. Having said that, this film is just a colossal waste of time. I guess the premise was kind of interesting – Air Force pilot downs own plane to steal nuclear weapons in order to blackmail the government for big cash – but certainly nothing new. The effects looked and were good and I like both John Travolta and Christian Slater, so I was expecting to be highly entertained. What happens is a train wreck of an action flick that starts overblown and gets more unbelievable from there.

To begin with, I think someone needs to explain the word "subtle" to Mr. Travolta. It must have been the directing since he's never been as out-of-control as this. Well, except in his Woo-directed follow-up FACE/OFF. Maybe this is how he believes villains should act. Personally, his cocky flamboyance made the role more laughable than menacing. Slater tries hard as the betrayed pilot who has the thankless job of trying to stop Travolta's scheme. His boyish righteousness is the only honest emotion in the film. Unfortunately, his solid performance is ruined by the presence of Samantha Mathis.

She plays a park ranger dragged away from her duty protecting our country's natural treasures to help Slater thwart nuclear destruction. After watching her performance, it's no wonder our national parks are in trouble. Granted she's not supposed to be a super hero, however, I kept waiting for her to burst into tears. She is not a woman who can realistically handle a gun, never mind try to combat evil. Instead of being a partner to Slater, she becomes just another hindrance in his race to stop Travolta. If Woo was trying to appeal to the female audience, he fails miserably.


"I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often that there's actually a term for it."

Mathis is so out of place I felt bad for her. Someone must have told her it would be a good career move, but they were obviously mistaken because she hasn't really had a leading role since. She looks more turned on than scared during the finale with Travolta. His performance may be over-the-top, but hers is embarrassing. It's not all her fault. The role is a throw away. Since a chase across the desert is no place for romance, Woo did what he could to add a female element to the mix. Bad casting and a weak character just add to the film's problems. Slater tries really hard to make you care about this "broken arrow" situation, but he looks mostly fatigued and by the middle of the movie so was I. The implausibilties abound.

Slater and Mathis continually stay alive even though they have only one handgun and the bad guys have a cache of weapons. Then they use every mode of transportation available to modern man (truly no exaggeration) to keep up with Travolta and his band of loonies. Instead of being exciting, BROKEN ARROW is mentally exhausting, leaving you to wonder how this much talent could amount to so little entertainment. Sure, it holds a few visual treats, but they can't make up for the bad plot and inane dialogue. The only reason I gave this film a star is because of the genuine charisma of both Travolta and Slater. They don't show much of it here, but they certainly try. If you must watch this film, my advice would be to get very, very drunk. That way you'll already be numb and if you pass out and miss the end you won't feel so bad. Though I'd consider myself lucky.


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