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broken arrow Broken Arrow
Starring John Travolta, Christian Slater, and Samantha Mathis
Directed by John Woo

Its the ultimate buddy movie. Two Air Force pilots, who lay bets against me each other over every little thing -- machismo ultimato. John Travolta is the bad guy, Vic Deakins. He's tougher, smarter, and loves pointing that out again and again to his partner Riley Hale, played by Christian Slater. They pilot the super secret stealth B-3 bomber, and in tonight's super secret mission we'll see Travolta try to kill Slater, while stealing two thermonuclear devices -- missiles, that is -- stored in the bomb bay. He will succeed at the latter, and fail at the former. Broken Arrow is Slater vs. Travolta; the goal being to keep the southwest from turning into a "quiet neighborhood for the next ten thousand years."

Slater's pursuit of Travolta is aided by Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis), whose dialogue tends to lean heavily on the phrase "This is a bad idea." If Hale is always on the losing end of the Deakins/Hale pairing, Carmichael is the new partner who takes the really dumb chances. Again and again and again.

And Woo runs way past the red line. Starting with the sound -- Cranky used to be a Sound Guy. It's the first thing I notice. Fists THUMP and POUND and EXPLODE on impact (really), in a boxing match which begins the film. Footsteps STOMP and CRUNCH. Jet engines SCREAM and WHISTLE and ROAR. The Wind WHISTLES. Gunshots and explosions -- well, there are fifty, maybe sixty, adjectives I can lay out here. And the nukes, um, NUKE. Cranky's ears were hyperventilating.

Let's cut to the chase....

Being of the Hebraic persuasion, Cranky is sure that there is some succinct Yiddish phrase that perfectly sums up just how incredibly BAD Broken Arrow is. Problem is, Cranky's folks never taught him the native tongue. Instead, I'll steal one from one of the Theatergoers Crankified after the show.

Broken Arrow is "terrifically terrible."

"It's like someone said, 'Let's orchestrate a lot of explosive stunts and built a movie around it,'" said another.

This movie is so bad you could probably sit through it TWO or THREE more times, and STILL bring friends in to see how bad it is.

There were, literally, gales of laughter coming out of the audience at some of the incredibly unbelieveable situations and dialog. Let's face it, action heroes are supposed to act. Christian Slater pauses ALL THE TIME to explain to us the technical details of what is going on, and why it is important that he do something. So does Travolta. So do some of the supporting characters. TALKING instead of DOING. The audience sat like Zen masters, waiting for the gears to shift--waiting for things to start exploding again. Which they do in short order.

And Cranky didn't even mind the continuity errors flying right and left.

No question about it, John Travolta is having the time of his life here. He takes horrible dialog (when was the last time you heard anyone using the word "Hush"?), and plugs it into the wonderful Travolta "style" we've seen since Pulp Fiction. Picture him in your head, saying: "How many times do I have to tell you NOT to shoot at the thermonuclear devices???"

The action drives everything, and Travolta just glides through it all smooth as silk, overplaying his villainy calmly and totally to the hilt. It's a blast.

Broken Arrow is a cinematic comic book. I'm not talking the good stuff (Miller or Gaiman or Moore or Waid). I'm talking Marvel Comic book superhero characters. Beat 'em up. Bust 'em up. Blow things up around 'em. Stomp 'em. Shoot 'em. Smash 'em with a tire iron. And THEY NEVER GET HURT. Sure there's blood, and ripped and burned clothing, and everyone around 'em gets thrashed and killed, but nothing slows these guys down. It's the Hulk versus Superman. And things keep blowing up.

And Cranky's been constantly giggling as his stubby little fingers THWACK THWACK THWACK into the keyboard, that's how goofy this movie is. So...

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Broken Arrow, he would have paid . . . and he doesn't BELIEVE he is about to write the following rating . . .

$6.00

Sometimes things are just so bad they're good.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.