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Friday, December 08, 2017

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Written by  Gregg Shapiro

Remember in the 1980s when Sting wanted to be a movie star, appearing in films such as Brimstone & Treacle, Dune, The Bride, and even alongside Meryl Streep in Plenty? Heck, even Melanie Griffith wanted to be an actress in the 80s.

Sting and Griffith co-starred in 1988’s Stormy Monday (Arrow Video / Icon), the feature-length film debut from writer/director Mike Figgis (the Oscar-winning Leaving Las Vegas). With a jazzy score befitting its title, Stormy Monday is the gritty tale of homophobic, Trump-like ugly American businessman Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones) who arrives in depressed Thatcher-era Newcastle during what is billed as “America week.” Cosmo promises to bring change and prosperity which means there will be shady backroom deals being made at any cost. Among Cosmo’s potential victims is Finney (Sting), owner of jazz venue The Key Club.

On Cosmo’s team is spiky-haired (it was the 80s!) American redhead and part-time waitress Kate (Griffith). Playing for team Finney is Brendan (Sean Bean when he was young and hot enough to be half-naked in several scenes), an Irishman who is initially hired to clean the club. Little does he know that he’ll be cleaning more messes than the ones in the men’s room.

After Kate and Brendan meet cute, unaware they are actually on opposites sides of the playing field, they begin a relationship. Before long everything comes to the surface and Kate sees the error of her ways, switching sides to be with Brendan. But there will be a high cost as guns are drawn and bombs are set off killing innocent people.

The timing of the special edition DVD/Blu-ray of Stormy Monday couldn’t be better with everything swirling around Brexit, as well as Trump’s meteoric/catastrophic rise from bombastic real estate mogul to POTUS. Bonus features include audio commentary by Figgis, a “then and now” look at the Newcastle locales and more.

Funny, violent, and loud, the terribly-titled “unlikely buddy” movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Summit / Millennium) is surprisingly entertaining, if about 20 minutes too long.

Impeccably-groomed executive protection agent Michael’s (Ryan Reynolds) career as head of AAA Protection Services comes to an abrupt end when a high-profile client is assassinated, regardless of all of the precautions taken. Still maintaining a professional demeanor (if you can overlook his reeking beater of a car), Michael is reduced to taking on less profitable assignments.

Meanwhile in Belarus, maniacal, brutal leader and facially disfigured Dukhovich (a scenery-chomping Gary Oldman), whose specialty is ethnic cleansing, wreaks havoc on those who defy him. The good news is he’s about to be put on trial at The Hague for his crimes against humanity.

One key witness is Darius (Samuel L. Jackson), a universally feared contract killer, who must be transported from Manchester, England, where he is serving time, to the Netherlands within 27 hours so that he may testify against Dukhovich. Of course, there is a virtual army of Dukhovich’s henchmen doing everything in their power to make sure that doesn’t happen. The caravan transporting Darius is attacked by mercenaries, and he and Interpol agent Amelia (Elodie Yung) are the only survivors. It’s then that, you guessed it, Amelia enlists her ex-boyfriend Michael to assist in the mission of getting her high-value charge to his destination.

Along the way we are introduced a variety of characters, with the most interesting among them being Darius’s foul-mouthed wife Sonia (Salma Hayek, who steals every scene in which she appears), who is also in prison. Michael and Darius, who also have a complicated past, eventually overcome most of their differences during the course of several lengthy fight and chase scenes.

If seeing a scruffy Reynolds in body-hugging suits isn’t enough for you, then watch and enjoy The Hitman’s Bodyguard for Hayek’s hilarious performance. DVD special features include commentary by director Patrick Hughes and the featurette “Big Action in a Big World.”

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