As far as mad bomber movies go, Stephen Hopkins’s Blown Away has to be one of the finest, a personal favourite of mine and a scorching, atmospheric thriller that has aged like fine wine. It had the unfortunate luck of being released the same year as fellow bomber flick and mega-hit Speed which kind of eclipsed it, but for my money this is the better film. Some suspension of disbelief is naturally required to enjoy this story of a psychopathic former Irish radical (Tommy Lee Jones) on a wanton path of destruction as he employs a personal vendetta against an old alliance (Jeff Bridges), who is now a hotshot in the Boston bomb squad division. After a disagreement years ago that led to hellish destruction and Jones’s incarceration for nearly two decades, the two face off in an incendiary game of cat and mouse set against the Boston backdrop, with everyone Bridges has in his life serving as collateral damage in his ruthless adversary’s sick game. Jones clearly had a dialect coach to say certain phrases and his accent slips generously here and there, but he plays his super baddie role with gleeful menace and steals every scene. Bridges always shines in any role and his caged animal intensity fires up the dire situation he finds himself, his family and colleagues in. Lloyd Bridges is fantastic as his old Irish uncle, Suzy Amis nails crucial scenes as his wife who gradually learns about his violent past, while Forest Whitaker does a fine job as the bomb squad’s rookie officer. Hopkins always does well in thriller territory (check out The Ghost & The Darkness for another brilliant outing from him) and the direction here is big, bold but never too far over the top, despite some theatrically elaborate set pieces involving the bombs. Alan Silvestri cranks up the orchestral grandeur for a thunderous, rousing score that’s nearly half the fun of the film. All involved do excellent work in not only making this a gorgeous film to look at but to create genuine suspense for more than one sequence, which isn’t easily achieved in this desensitized viewer. There’s probably a Blu Ray floating around out there and that’s fine, but there’s a smoky ambience and atmospheric 90’s feel to this film that I feel lends itself a bit better to the loving grain of DVD, the format I own it on. I remember watching bits and pieces of it on TBS Superstation back when I was younger and loving it, it’s a great film to keep revisiting.
The Nightmare On Elm Street franchise went to some pretty weird and wild places as it went on, like the snowball effect except the snowball is a grotesque sphere of faux burn victim latex. By the fifth entry, titled The Dream Child, New Line studios had basically not only let the floodgates open in terms of Robert England’s Freddy Krueger and the increasingly warped special effects, but left the keys to them in the hands of any filmmaker who came along to make their stamp on the legacy. This one is silly, excessively ooey gooey and super demented. As such, it’s naturally one of my favourite Freddy flicks. Helmed by extreme stylist Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2, The Ghost & The Darkness), it has an especially disturbing opening sequence involving the origins and backstory of Freddy, one that balances schlock with outright atrocity nicely and is imaginative when you consider the tropes of these movies. Lisa Wilcox’s Alice is still alive and kicking, pregnant and finding ever present pizza faced Freddy trying to attack her through the dreams of her unborn child, as well as those of her friends. There’s not much to it except increasingly elaborate set pieces where he finds new ways to kill these teens, including literally force feeding a girl with an eating disorder until she explodes and causing the mother of all motorbike accidents, a well staged scene that’s actually up there with my favourite Freddy kills. The original theme music is back, but there’s also a super creepy new synth composition by Jay Ferguson playing over the opening credits that spices things up and makes this feel like it’s own beast. The later additions in the legacy get a bad rap for being silly and over the top, but hey these are horror flicks about dreams, which by definition are over the top and unbound by genre, and plus I like the one liners. Best quip to be found here? “Bon appetit, bitch!”, growled by Freddy as he proudly wears a ridiculous chefs hat. Savage af. I like this one a lot for its impressive practical effects, genuinely frightening prologue and fresh new score. Good times. Oh, and check out that gorgeous poster art, they really don’t make those like they used to anymore, unless you’re Panos Cosmatos.
Podcasting Them Softly is thrilled to present a chat with screenwriter and director PeterIliff, a name many movie fans will likely recognize, as he’s the guy responsible for writing one of the greatest action films of all time, POINT BREAK. The film has become a massive audience favorite over the years, and it’s one of those movies that Nick and Frank have seen so many times they’ve probably got most of it committed to memory! Peter‘s other screenwriting credits include the Jack Ryan adventure PATRIOT GAMES, the teen classic VARSITY BLUES, and the underrated and stylish Stephen Hopkins thriller UNDER SUSPICION. His directorial debut arrived in 2012 with the horror thriller RITES OF PASSAGE, and he’s got a number of exciting projects on the horizon which are detailed during this exciting discussion! Nick and Frank are both big fans of action movies in general, so this was a real treat to be joined by the creator of one of our absolute favorite flicks in POINT BREAK — We hope you enjoy our latest episode!
Back in the summer of 1994, there were three big action films to hit the marketplace: Speed, True Lies, and sandwiched in between, was the underrated Blown Away, which suffered the worst box office fate of the bunch but still delivered more than enough thrills and excitement to qualify as an action-packed blast of unpretentious entertainment. This movie is so much fun in an old-school, traditional manner (it just FEELS, in a great way, like an MGM movie), shot with lots of style by director Stephen Hopkins (Predator 2, The Ghost and the Darkness) and acted with intense ferocity by Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones, as a Boston bomb squad officer and a mad Irish bomber respectively. Jones is running wild on the streets of Boston, blowing up anything and everything he can find, all in an effort to exact revenge on his old friend Bridges, who both went through IRA/terrorist issues which are dealt with in black and white flashback. Bridges is the noble cop who always seems to know which wire to cut – the blue one or the red one. While the plotting is mostly predictable, the film knows exactly what it’s doing with its numerous action scenes, and it must be pointed out, that the film features the SINGLE GREATEST DONE-FOR-REAL EXPLOSION ever captured on film. There’s no debating this. I fucking LOVE movie explosions. I’ve made it a point to STUDY them throughout my life. This one is top-dog. When Jones’ old shipyard boat goes kablooey at the climax, you literally can’t believe what you’re watching and that the two fearless stuntmen weren’t killed or burned to death. The image has REAL camera shake, glass windows in downtown buildings were blown out, and total radio silence in and around Boston Harbor was kept for 10 miles so no interference could occur with the destruction of the balsa wood ship. Peter Levy’s cinematography is terrific all throughout, and the brisk editing keeps the pace moving fast. Kino has just released an excellent special edition Blu-ray of this extremely fun, throw-back type action thriller that was more old-fashioned than audiences may have been expecting. Hopkins provides a great, info-filled commentary, and the picture transfer is very crisp and clean, retaining that awesome, slick-and-gritty 90’s film stock look, with that final explosion looking all sorts of epic and awesome in full 2.35:1 widescreen (previous DVD releases were non-anamorphic). Alan Silvestri’s score is appropriately bombastic and thoroughly exciting. Forest Whitaker, Suzy Amis, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, John Finn, and Lloyd Bridges all offer memorable support. Cuba Gooding Jr. has literally 30 seconds of screen time in one scene. Jay Roach (Meet the Parents) got original story credit!