HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Azor
Night Raiders
Samourai, Le
Advent Calendar, The
Champion
Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Love of Jeanne Ney, The
Blonde. Purple
Dirty Ho
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
   
 
Newest Articles
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
   
 
  Johnny Handsome Fugly's revenge
Year: 1989
Director: Walter Hill
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Elizabeth McGovern, Morgan Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Lance Henriksen, Scott Wilson, David Schramm, Yvonne Bryceland, Peter Jason, J.W. Smith
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Romance, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Severely-deformed petty crook John Sedley (Mickey Rourke), cruelly nicknamed ‘Johnny Handsome’, accompanies his one true friend on a jewel heist that goes horribly wrong. Double-crossed by his accomplices, criminal couple Sunny Boyd (Ellen Barkin) and Rafe Garrett (Lance Henriksen) who murder his friend, Johnny winds up with a lengthy jail sentence. Inside prison, Johnny attracts the interest of Doctor Steven Fisher (Forest Whitaker), a surgeon looking to pioneer experimental cosmetic surgery as a form of rehabilitation for criminals. With nothing to lose, Johnny happily serves as Dr. Fisher’s guinea pig and emerges transformed into a handsome man. But though Johnny is released to start his second chance at a better life, New Orleans police detective Lieutenant Drones (Morgan Freeman) remains certain that what he’s really after is a shot at revenge.

Johnny Handsome is a hard film to get a handle on. Coming after the dumb actioner Red Heat (1988), Walter Hill likely set out to craft something more substantial and ambitious but was seemingly indecisive as to what form that should take. Consequently the film emerged an oddball, inconsistent hybrid equal parts earnest character driven drama and cockeyed homage to old B-movies. Adapted from the novel, “The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome” by John Godey - pseudonym for Morton Freedgood, the author of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) - this was among several flops that, along with some unfortunate life choices, derailed Mickey Rourke’s once-promising career. Which is a shame because, regardless of the quality of the movie, his performance in the first half is quite remarkable. Buried under heavy prosthetic makeup, Rourke wrings a great deal of pathos with a characterisation that foreshadows his more celebrated turn in Sin City (2005). After the plastic surgery however, Johnny emerges a more sedate, strangely less compelling character, like someone from a different movie.

Things open like gangbusters. Ellen Barkin and Lance Henriksen make a vivid first impression as coked-up, leather-clad Bonnie and Clyde wannabes Sunny and Rafe, stealing every scene they are in. As a young aspiring filmmaker, Hill was heavily influenced by John Boorman near avant-garde crime classic Point Blank (1967). Here for the opening he adopts a similarly fractured sense of space and time which along with his arresting use of extreme wide angles make the action resemble a comic book onscreen, though not in a juvenile sense. More along the lines of an adult-oriented graphic novel. An admittedly inconsistent but unfairly underrated and creatively innovative filmmaker, Hill layers the plot with some admirable character depth aided by Rourke’s initially poignant performance. But after a strong start things strangely run out of steam and thereafter grind laboriously through an odd hybrid of blue collar drama and predictable revenge plot.

Johnny’s romance with a nice girl played by future Downton Abbey star Elizabeth McGovern derails the film into an adaptation of some kind of Bruce Springsteen song about regular working stiffs trying to make their way in a hard-living world. Throughout the first act there are hints that Hill is attempting to mount his hard-boiled thriller as an existential parable, once again along the lines of Point Blank. Yet whereas Lee Marvin’s anti-hero was a consistent force of nature, Johnny proves frustratingly flaky and obtuse. Although several characters insist he is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, Morgan Freeman’s detective remains adamant to the contrary and is ultimately proven correct even though his character does little besides cackle knowingly. There is, for example, no adequate reason why Johnny callously wrecks his romance with McGovern’s Donna to hop in bed with Sunny, the woman who shot his best friend. Never mind that Ellen Barkin wears some fetching leather outfits. The film chugs along with progressively less enthusiasm till it fizzles out with a weak climax. Regular Hill collaborator Ry Cooder contributes a typically atmospheric score.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3629 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Walter Hill  (1942 - )

American director, writer and producer who specialises in action and Westerns. Entered the industry in 1967 as an assistant director on The Thomas Crown Affair, and in 1972 adapted Jim Thompson's novel The Getaway for Sam Peckinpah. Hill made his directing debut in 1975 with the Charles Bronson actioner Hard Times, but it was The Driver that introduced his hard, stylish approach to the genre. The Warriors has become a campy cult favourite, while The Long Riders was his first foray into Westerns, with Geronimo, Wild Bill and the recent TV show Deadwood following in later years.

During the eighties and nineties, Hill directed a number of mainstream hits, including 48 Hours and its sequel, comedy Brewsters Millions and Schwarzenegger vehicle Red Heat, as well as smaller, more interesting pictures like Southern Comfort, Streets of Fire and Trespass. Hill was also producer on Alien and its three sequels, contributing to the story of the middle two parts.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: