Michael Rooker Weekend – Cliffhanger (1993)

Director: Renny Harlin

Writer: Michael France, Sylvester Stallone (Screenplay) John Long (Premise)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner, Rex Linn, Caroline Goodall, Leon, Craig Fairbrass

 

Plot: A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.


Tagline – Hang on!

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Fun 90s Action Film

 

Story: Cliffhanger starts when Gabe Walker (Stallone) returns to the Rocky Mountains 8 months after a tragic event which saw his best friend Hal (Rooker) lose a girlfriend through a rescue attempt gone wrong. Gabe and Hal must put their differences aside when a distress call from a botch mid-air flight crash lands on the mountains.

Qualen (Lithgow) leads the criminals as they force Hal and Gabe to guide them to their loot, which takes them across the mountains with the only rescue team being led by Jessie (Turner) that can help them survive.

 

Thoughts on Cliffhanger

 

Characters – Gabe is known as being the best climbing around, he works on the rescues and can reach spots others wouldn’t event try to get too. After an accident he has walked away from this world, but his return is just in time as he needs to navigate the mountains to say ahead of the criminals searching for their money, picking them off one by one. Qualen is the leader of the criminals, he has a plan which would make him rich and money is the only thing that matters to him. Hal is the old friend of Gabe’s, he blames him for the accident and ends up becoming the reluctant guide for the criminals, using his knowledge to slow them down. Jessie is the final member of the search and rescue team who is working with Gabe to get ahead of the criminals, only her position makes for an extra problem for Gabe. The rest of the criminals fill in the generic roles, the British henchman, the pilot, the lover and the one with pride in a kill.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone was the prime example of one of the best action stars in the early 90s, this movie shows why because his one-liner deliver is on point and the physical side of the performance showed he was read for the role. John Lithgow as a villain is one of the easiest choice we see, he shines in this role which will make you just hate him. Michael Rooker in the good guy with a grudge role does work well too with Janine Turner filling out the main cast doing the best she can with her own character.

StoryThe story here is simple, two rescue mountain rangers are tricked into helping a group of criminals that have seen their heist go wrong and need to locate their money. This is as simple as it sounds, we never try to over complicate anything going on in this film, it is good guys versus bad guys on a mountain which adds to the peril, we have a small sub story about Gabe and Hal needing to put an accident behind them, which does work as they  must work together instead of just fighting or blaming each other. While we can work out how this will happen and we do get plenty of one-liners this all works for a 90s action film.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is strong, we focus on different fight, explosions and just difficulties of being that high up in the middle of a battle for survival, which does play into the adventure elements as this takes the characters on an unlikely journey to try and collect money.

SettingsThe film keeps the whole film on the mountain range, it shows just how difficult it would be to just escape and how knowing the lay of land the climbers have the advantage.


Scene of the Movie –
Final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Just how capable the villains are to do all the mountaineering.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical fun 90s action film, it will entertain the audience and gives us plenty of one-liners to laugh at.

 

Overall: 90s action through and through.

Rating

 

 

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Buffalo Soldiers (2001)

logoDirector: Gregor Jordan

Writer: Gregor Jordan, Eric Weiss, Nora Maccoby (Screenplay) Robert O’Connor (Book)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Anna Paquin, Elizabeth McGovern, Michael Pena, Leon, Gabriel Mann

 

Plot: A criminal subculture operates among U.S. soldiers stationed in West Germany just before the fall of the Berlin wall.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Forgettable ‘Comedy’ Drama

 

Story: Buffalo Soldiers starts by introducing Ray Elwood (Phoenix) who is having a problem with his dreaming of falling, he is part of a military base in Germany. Cue the introduction of the macho men all trying to one up each other before an accidentally death of one of the soldiers. Ray secretly sales whatever he can on the black market and is the go to guy for both the locals and the soldiers.

When the autopsy comes back on the soldier’s death Colonel Berman (Harris) starts to panic about the idea of drugs on the base, this will put a spanner in the works for Ray’s business. When a chance shipment of arms comes into Ray’s hand he decides to enter into the arms race with the brand new weapons. The make matters worse for Ray a new Sergeant Lee (Glenn) decides to try and clean up the barracks starting with trying to get to the bottom of all of Ray’s plans. Ray deciding to come back in his own way by dating his daughter Robyn (Paquin) ends up stuck in battle of one up man ship while avoiding conflict with a rival dealer on the base.

Buffalo Soldiers really ends up falling into a lot of things I hate about films, first we have the excessive drug use which you all know I really hate in film. I do understand that it is important to the storyline but I would like to think soldiers were doing more than just making drugs or getting stoned. I did like the idea of the wheeler and dealer through the army but the film never settles on which genre it wants to be or which battle is the most important. It all comes off very bland and forgettable once it is all finished. (3/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Joaquin Phoenix: Ray Elwood is the wheeler and dealer on the base, he can get his hands on anything and makes sure he can sale it on for a profit. The men all turn to him for their stuff but when a strict Sergeant turns up on the base his worlds starts changing leaving him battling to stay in control. Joaquin shows why he was the lead actor with a strong performance that doesn’t have the cocky level I feel it needed but otherwise looked confident through every scene. (7/10)

 

Ed Harris: Colonel Berman is the laid back Colonel looking towards his retirement who is also good friends with Ray even if he doesn’t know what he is doing on the base. Ed does a good job but doesn’t get enough screen time for my likely. (6/10)

 

Scott Glenn: Sergeant Lee is the strict new man on the base who targets Ray and his man before things start getting personally when Ray starts dating his daughter. Scott starts strong but ends up fizzling out to a generic strict father figure. (5/10)

 

Anna Paquin: Robyn Lee is the daughter that catches the eye of Ray before they get involved in a relationship against her father’s will. Anna shows she was coming into her own during the time of release with this role. (6/10)

 

Support Cast: Buffalo Soldiers has a big supporting cast that includes the fellow soldiers who both work with and against Ray.

 

Director Review: Gregor Jordan – Gregor gives us an average film that doesn’t have any truly memorable scenes but doesn’t completely go down as bad. (5/10)

 

Comedy: Buffalo Soldiers doesn’t really have too many funny moments the high tank drivers was the highlight for me. (3/10)

Crime: Buffalo Soldiers does put the characters into an underworld of crime throughout. (5/10)

Thriller: Buffalo Soldiers doesn’t manage to pull us in enough to make us truly care what happens to all the characters. (4/10)

Settings: Buffalo Soldiers creates authentic settings for the time period being used. (7/10)

Suggestion: Buffalo Soldiers is a late night television job, I couldn’t recommend this to anyone to watch fresh. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: High tank drivers.

Worst Part: Not enough happens.

Funniest Scene: High tank drivers.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $15 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: War is hell… but peace is f*#!%!! boring.

Trivia: Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on 9 September 2001. The events that happened two days later effectively killed the film’s chances of distribution within the United States.

 

Overall: Very average at best.

Rating 40