Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991)


Simon Wincer directs Mickey Rourke, Don Johnson and Chelsea Field in this near-future biker buddy action flick, essentially Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid remade by idiots. 

It says something that this was always sitting on the shelf at both video rental places I frequented as a kid and not once did I ever bother to risk 99p on it. Made at the bitter end of both Eighties stars box office careers, it held zero appeal. Nowadays Johnson is a southern fried delight whenever he crops up in smaller roles and Rourke has had more comeback chances than John Travolta. Time will be kinder to their careers now they both have a couple of classics dotted around the 21st century resumes. This, however, is pap. Johnson even said while promoting it “If your a fan of mindless action. If you don’t have a single brain cell in your head, this is the film for you.” No doubt disgruntled at how rapidly his once hot trajectory was dipping. But it is, at least, a purposely bonehead film, self aware of its cheesiness and low ambitions. The first three action sequences come out of nowhere and serve no real narrative purpose. The baddie (a restrained Tom Sizemore) is a banker who dabbles in dealing a fantasy drug we never see anyone using. The T&A is bunged into the first act so gleefully that it is either there to distract us from the lack of chemistry between Rourke and Johnson… Or it was a contractual obligation to show at least six nipples and three buttcheeks and they wanted to get it done quick in case they forgot. The action is uninspired even when it does serve the dream-like plotting. But there are stepping stones of quirk and quality throughout. There’s a couple of nice running jokes that actually pay off in the finale “My old man told me, before he left this shitty world…”. Chelsea Field crops up as a disposable love interest and she’s great as always. There’s a pretty obvious unconsummated gay love affair between our leathers and Stetson wearing headliners, hidden in plain sight, especially during their loaded dialogue exchanges “I coulda had a family with Jenny Ann… but marriage is for those other guys, you know?” WE KNOW! Both waning stars might be running on empty together but they are never less than watchable even when discordant. And for fans of The Matrix this probably the first movie unofficially set in that world… henchmen in bullet proof black leather dusters, skyscrapers everywhere, Die Hard 5 already out on billboards… DIE HARD 5 ALREADY OUT!!… What hellish dystopia are these two closet butches frolicking around in?!



My Top Ten Buddy Movies

1.  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
2. Papillon (1973)
3. Toy Story (1995)
4. The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
5. Kill List (2011)
6. 48 Hrs (1982)

7. Lethal Weapon (1987)
8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
9. The Last Boy Scout (1992)
10. Fight Club (1999)

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