The Oscar-nominated Steven Seagal vehicle Under Siege hit screens in October 1992. A significant hit, it opened the floodgates for a wave of films which attempted to recreate the magic of John McTiernan's Die Hard, Suddenly, four years after the release of the Bruce Willis classic, every studio was putting a relatable everyman (or sometimes Steven Seagal) up against armed terrorists within a relatively confined space: a ship, a train, an airliner.
Even today, the "Die Hard scenario" remains popular and the films which attempt this approach form an intriguing subgenre. Surprisingly, though, there is one film which very successfully copied the format of Die Hard which isn't too often discussed - and that's the film's very own sequel, Renny Harlin's Die Hard 2.
Renny Harlin's 1996 film The Long Kiss Goodnight is worth taking a look at right now for a few reasons: it was released 20 years ago this year, it's a classic Christmas action film up there with Die Hard, and it's one of the underrated gems of its genre.
Shane Black was paid $4 million for his terrific script, and Harlin had hopes that his then-wife Geena Davis would become a bankable action star. However, Harlin's 1995 flop Cutthroat Island cast a long shadow, and The Long Kiss Goodnight underperformed. Although it has its vocal champions, including Priscilla Page, the film languishes in relative obscurity - but here are five reasons why it deserves a place in any action fan's heart.
Recently I've really been getting into Italian crime fiction in a big way. I began by reading Roberto Saviano's amazing and chilling non-fiction book Gomorrah, then sought out the equally superb TV series. Last night, I watched Suburra, a 2015 crime epic directed by Stefano Sollima, one of Gomorrah's three directors.
Like the TV series, Suburra is an intensely detailed and bleak account of systemic criminal corruption in Italy. As opposed to Naples, where Gomorrah takes place, Suburra is set in Rome - meaning that senior politicians, the Roman mob, and even the Pope are implicated in all the seedy events that take place. It's brilliant, harrowing stuff driven by a great script and a fine ensemble cast. It's quite labyrinthine, so I decided to create this chart showing just some of the complex relationships. You can download a PDF copy below.
Stefano Sollima is the son of Sergio Sollima (1921 - 2015), director of three of the best Italian western films ever made. Right now he's working on Soldado, the sequel to Denis Villeneuve's 2015 film Sicario, which was also a favourite of mine - it's in safe hands. Suburra is also being made into a Netflix series - so there's plenty more Italian crime goodness still to come.
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) ★★★★★
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