"In Retrospect" is the oh-so original name I'll be giving to pieces looking back at familiar films. Rather than being reviews as such, they will instead take a closer look at how films were produced and how they stand up with the passing of time. To begin with, I'll be taking a look at a few action films set at Christmas - beginning with Shane Black's wisecracking buddy-cop classic Lethal Weapon.
Lethal Weapon may not have launche the buddy-cop genre as such - Walter Hill's 48 Hrs. (1982) was just one of its antecedents - but it definitely helped to cement and popularise this enduringly popular idea. Played by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover respectively, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh are now the archetypal buddy cops. They reunited for three sequels up until 1998, were parodied in Loaded Weapon 1 (1993), and have been re-imagined and re-cast for a 2016 TV series.
Besides launching the franchise and boosting the buddy-cop subgenre, Lethal Weapon was a trendsetting film for a number of other reasons. It launched Mel Gibson's career in the US, turned Shane Black into a screenwriting superstar, and is even a milestone in the use of martial arts sequences in American action films. The film's commercial success and continued influence are clear enough, but were the product of a very specific set of ingredients combined together by veteran director Donner.
The Accountant (2016) [IMDB]
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal
In 2016, Hollywood has continued to labour under a pall of familiarity. Ever in search of "sure things", the big studios have doubled-down once again on sequels, remakes, reboots, "re-imaginings", and spin-offs. Where something new is promised - as with, say, Doctor Strange - we're often left disappointed. That's where The Accountant comes in: a genuinely somewhat novel, if flawed, thriller which serves as a breath of fresh air.
Hard Target 2 (2016) [IMDB]
Directed by Roel Reine
Starring Scott Adkins, Robert Knepper, Ann Truong, Rhona Mitra
Hard Target 2 is a pale imitation of John Woo's first American film, disguised as a sequel and released direct-to-video 23 years later. It's poorly written and paced, but has enough stunts and thrills to satisfy a lot of action fans. An athletic performance by Scott Adkins provides the bulk of the film's appeal - and Roel Reine's film is the British actor's best starring role since 2013's Ninja: Shadow of a Tear. In these lean times for action fans, we'll take what we can get.
Sometime film reviewer, Letterboxd user, novice Blu-Ray collector. Top 3 directors: Woo, Hill, Leone.
Henry V (UK, 1989) ★★★★½
The Fast and the Furious (USA, 2001) ★★★★
Goodfellas (USA, 1990) ★★★★★
[All Letterboxd Reviews]