Thursday, May 24, 2012

The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 26 - BULLETPROOF HEART (1995)

- Rated R for a strong graphic sex scene and for language.
- Starring Anthony LaPaglia, Mimi Rogers, Matt Craven, Peter Boyle
- Story by Mark Malone;  Screenplay by Gordon Melbourne
- Directed by Mark Malone
- Running time: 1hr 37min

(The 31 Day Movie Challenge was proposed to me by fellow film critic Jessie Hoheisel (from superawesomemovieblog). We each chose 30 films for each other to review for the month of May. The first film chosen will be from 1970. The second film from 1971... and so on. The last day will be a film from 2000. I accepted the challenge!) 

I saw this one when it first came out on Home Video back in 1996.  I remember thinking it was pretty original, and liked it.  But tastes change throughout the years, and I feel that it's important to re-watch movies as time goes on.

Anthony LaPaglia plays a killer for hired named Mick.  He is comfortable with his job, but because of it has turned him into a bit of a cold hearted bastard.  He doesn't have the ability to feel, as is evident in a scene when a hot call girl fails to arouse him.  His boss George, played by Peter Boyle, hires Mick to kill a femme fatale, Fiona (Rogers), who ripped him off.  The weird thing is, it was Fiona's idea to be killed off, and is looking forward to it, which baffles George.  Also along for the ride is Matt Craven's Archie, who is a bumbling thug who wants to prove himself a worthy helper after botching Mick's last job. When Mick meets Fiona, something unexpected happens.  He grows attached to her, getting to know her before he rubs her out.

LaPaglia is an underrated actor and I think this could be his finest work as Mick, giving him a sort of alienated, tough guy vulnerability.  Mimi Rogers shines as the femme fatale, who is completely fucked up in the head.  Matt Craven gives the film it's much needed lighter touch as a goofball who wants to be a killer.  Peter Boyle is expectedly solid.  The script by Gordon Melbourne is quite good.  The premise is pretty low key and not a whole lot happens.  But it's more interested in character interactions than action and suspense.  Conversations between Mick and Fiona are the movie's best moments, as they talk about life and their personal problems which is littered with colorful dialogue. The have good chemistry together as they fall for one another. 

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from poor production values.  It actually became distracting for me.  I think Mark Malone was going for a sort of film noir look, but with the budget he was given the movie ends up looking like a late night softcore Cinemax movie that was often seen in the 90's.  The sleazy and amateurish score doesn't help either.  I also think the movie needed to be opened up more, the world it takes place in feels awfully small, even though it's set in New York City.  The movie just feels cheap and will take most people awhile to get into it, if at all.

That's too bad, cause this movie is smarter than it's production values.  It's pretty sophisticated when it comes to it's characters, but lazy in it's filmmaking aspects.  It's not bad by any means, and way better than it should be, but it could have been a great movie with the proper execution.

**1/2 (out of ****)

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