Classic action director John Woo, redeeming himself for making a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie (Hard Target) in 1992, proves himself capable in the Hollywood arena of big explosions with this stylish story. Broken Arrow is your (very) basic action/adventure featuring an air force pilot gone mad (John Travolta), the sidekick (Christian Slater) who tries to stop him from stealing two nuclear weapons (aka broken arrows) and holding a city hostage, and the really cute park ranger (Samantha Mathis) who teams up with him to save the world.
Obviously, anything with a plot as far-fetched as this is going to take a lot more than 100 minutes to completely flesh out, so screenwriter Graham Yost has left much of the story to our imagination, relying instead on lots of exploding helicopters, trains, jeeps, planes, buildings, and the occasional nuclear weapon. Oh, and guns, and even fist fights, when there's nothing left to blow up.
Not that this is bad. Even though it's pretty mindless, it's actually a lot of fun. Yes, the dialogue is really corny (when the movie's best line is "You da man," you know you're in trouble), the dramatics are overdone, the humor is largely unintentional, and the plot is driven by coincidence and lucky, wild guesses. But what Yost has left out in substance, Woo makes up for with style. His signature slo-mo fighting and gunplay are choreographed better than any Hollywood insider could hope to achieve, and Woo can really get your heart rate going, even though you know how things are going to turn out. You really have no choice but to cut him some slack in the story department.
Woo also makes an interesting (and blatant) attempt to pay homage to Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, with many of that film's touches. Most notably, a bar of theme music is played for John Travolta whenever he's on screen. While kitschy, Travolta (in his third "goofy criminal" role in two years) is not Clint Eastwood...and Woo isn't Leone, for that matter.
But all this stuff is probably just quibbling from a crusty film critic. While Broken Arrow is truly mindless eye candy, it's a whole lot of fun for anyone who feels that more testosterone is better.
The good... the bad... and the only picture of Samantha Mathis I could get.
Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Friday 9th February 1996
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Mark Gordon Productions, WCG Entertainment Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 16 Rotten: 14
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: John Woo
Screenwriter: Graham Yost
Starring: John Travolta as Maj. Vic 'Deak' Deakins, Christian Slater as Capt. Riley Hale, Samantha Mathis as Terry Carmichael, Delroy Lindo as Colonel Max Wilkins, Bob Gunton as Pritchett, Frank Whaley as Giles Prentice, Howie Long as Kelly, Vondie Curtis-Hall as Chief Sam Rhodes, Jack Thompson as Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, Vyto Ruginis as Johnson, Ousaun Elam as Lt. Thomas, Shaun Toub as Max, Casey Biggs as Novacek, Jeffrey J. Stephen as Shepherd, Joey Box as Frakes