Bulletproof Midnight Movie Review
By Bret Dorman
I’ve been struggling a lot recently with this question “What makes a movie bad?” And off of that, “What makes some bad movies so bad they are good and others just plain bad?” About 3 or 4 years ago I started following the “Quentin Tarantino schlock art” philosophy. You know… how in interviews/his films he will praise movies that most people deem ‘lesser quality’ as high art or Oscar worthy even. I started analyzing my own movie watching habits. Why can’t a movie like Critters or Hellraiser or Darkman, all badass flicks, be actually considered good quality? Sure they are all corny and silly but they also have some innovative aspects and good stories at their core. When dealing with space aliens, demons, or a super human burn victim with 99 minute masks is it so wrong to embrace the innate silliness and if they do, does that make the silly parts bad?
Here’s the levels of bad that I have categorized so far in the best way I can relay them, using the movies of The Action God Himself:
1) Movies like the above mentioned that are just plain silly and are meant to be goofy movies but still happen to have traits of a good filmmaker. See: Predator. Space alien comes to Earth to hunt humans as a game (?) but features John McTiernan at the height of his career, basically re-inventing the action genre as we know it.
2) Genuinely funny movies that people are too ashamed to admit they think are genuinely funny. See: Kindergarten Cop.
3) Movies that are way too over-the-top, perhaps even for their own good. See: The Running Man.
4) Movies that are comedies that people still make fun of even though I feel the movie is already in on the joke. See: Jingle All The Way. Twins. Junior.
5) Movies that despite their low budget still try to be way awesome badass action flicks. In addition to low funds, they probably also have super cliche moments or stereotypes, even when it doesn’t make sense because they saw a cooler movie do it. See: Raw Deal.
6) Movies that are just plain boring. See: End of Days.
As you can see the list starts out with good movies that don’t get the real recognition they deserve, goes into the ‘so bad its good’ territory and end with legit bad stuff. What’s funny is that even though Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in every type… only one movie I know of probably has all 6 traits at the same time: Bulletproof. It has some cool explosions, funny parts on purpose, funny parts not on purpose, is way too ambitious for its own good, features some of the most ridiculous ‘we wrote this dealing with war/cops/cia’ having ONLY seen other movies as research’ moments, and is pretty dull to boot.The Story: Frank McBane (a functionally crazy Gary Busey) is sent to Mexico to stop some terrorists from selling a stolen super tank to some commies. Also, he may or may not get it on with his former crush turned lover turned best friend’s lover turned awkward antagonistic lady friend after he was responsible for his best friends death.
Bulletproof is an amazing movie stuck in between action and comedy that is never a full blown spoof. It has real action scenes where things explode and people die. It has funny moments like McBane walking up behind men looking ahead for him and whistling to them or a grenade that takes too long to explode. It also has some bizarre moments like an escape featuring a grenade and giant spool. It’s fun to cheer the mayhem, laugh with the movie, and stare at the screen in disbelief mouthing “WTF?!?!” I feel those wtf moments are SO outrageous they tend to override the rest of the film. I’m sure people be laughing AT the movie during some parts that were genuinely meant to be laughed at.At the same time, this movie has moments like someone using a knife to cut through metal chains, which is something that should not happen or be left unaddressed. Moments like the police chief guy giving McBane a stern talking to only to secretly let on he really approves (tehehehe!). A partner whose banter is so forced we actually don’t mind he’s only in the first scene never to appear again. And lines like a nun asking “Are they going to roast us alive sergeant?” and the girl demanding “give it to me straight sergeant!” Most of the dialogue is as iff they pieced together three different action movies, took out all the specifics, and then tried to add in their own silly one-liners.
On top of that you have an awkward dry humping rape scene, bad guys who are WAY too tolerant to their hostages talking back and causing a ruckus, and a plot that makes no sense. The army sends in this super tank to intentionally under guarded into enemy territory so it can get captured with the intent of selling it to our BIGGEST national enemy so that it can manipulate McBane, a one man army, into going in and killing them all because the woman he loves was in the troop captured by the bad guys…? Right…All of this combined makes for one fantastic mess. It’s unclear what kind of movie this was supposed to be. Screenwriters who were working for money churned out a script in a week? A director with a competent eye and weak spot for explosions? Producers who thought this would be the next Die Hard? Actors who took the subject material way too seriously? With the exception of Gary Busey, who breezes through the film as if what’s happening when he is on camera happens when he is off camera, during his ‘normal’ life. Awkward edits, line readings, and word choice? And then everyone realizing during the filming they should have some fun with it as well? What are we supposed to make of this? If in the end everything is miraculously conveyed over all, even if it with a smirk or smile, doesn’t that, to some degree make it a good movie? If the movie is supposed to be generic blow stuff up fun didn’t it succeed. Do we REALLY care about all those little plot points? Aren’t the funny parts really funny? Its not like anyone watching can be made saying to themselves “This movie had such potential but they RUINED it! Argh!!!”
Why You Must See It At Midnight: Whether you’re like me and try to see the best every film has to offer or you think Everything Is Terrible (which is sponsoring the showing), the one thing everyone can agree on is this movie is one of a kind. Sure lots of movies have tanks, explosions, silly cia/government twisty-turny plots that make no sense, bad acting, over acting, crazy acting, and a invincible hero against all odds defeating a bunch of terrorists… but no other movie has the phrase “butt-horn” used so effectively… multiple times. For most people, Everything about this movie is terrible with one exception; the very fact that it is playing at Music Box Theatre this Friday at midnight. I’m sure there will be applause as the movie starts… and every time they say the word “Bulletproof“.