Reflections of the Third Eye
22 May 2013
Black Rain (1989)
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It's easy to forget these days, but there was a long period, perhaps as long as 15 years, where Ridley Scott's standing as an A-list director was shakey at best. He did manage to pull one commercial and critical success out of the hat with Thelma & Louise, but this may have been a case of fortunate timing more than anything else. It certainly wasn't no Alien, anyway. Scott's return to the big league didn't really happen until the 2000s with Gladiator. In the vast doldrums between that movie and Blade Runner almost 20 years earlier floats a string of unmemorable films, some of which are not very good at all. The reason for this crisis of both creativity and productivity will have to be discussed elsewhere, but it's clearly an unusual trajectory that Scott's directing career has followed.

Revisiting BLACK RAIN now I am primarily reminded of how disappointed I was with it during its original run, not least since Scott's name still rang with a certain appeal at the time (1989). Conceptually it mixes two popular 1980s Hollywood themes; crooked cops on one hand, and Japan and the Japanese on the other. The story is unexceptional and full of clichés, making one wonder how Scott stomached working on what is B-movie material and nothing else. Some money was allocated for shooting in Japan, which offers a little eye candy, but Scott's occasional winks at magical Blade Runner visuals (light coming sideways or mixed with smoke, rainy inner city streets, foreign neon signs) seem almost offensive given the dreariness of the repetitive, predictable script and jargon-filled and at times silly dialogue.

Casting an overaged Michael Douglas as the archetypal loner renegade cop hunted by Internal Affairs was a bad idea which raises a new round of problems beside the writing. Douglas does not convince as a streetwise tough guy, and his voluminous mullet haircut looks pretty awful. The whole presentation is like a clumsy copy job of Mel Gibson's much better developed character in Lethal Weapon. Andy Garcia, who was a rising star at the time, plays his usual sincere and warmhearted Latino, leaving few footprints behind except for a spectacular death scene (the single thing I remembered from my first viewing of this movie). Some of the Japanese actors fare a little better and it's nice to see Kate Capshaw in one of relatively few Hollywood roles post-Spielberg, but none of this changes the fact that Black Rain is a highly unoriginal, surprisingly unintelligent, and at times quite irritating film. One of Ridley Scott's worst. 5/10

Posted by Patrick at Lysergia at 12:29 AM MEST
Updated: 22 May 2013 12:31 AM MEST

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