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Johnny Handsome is a deformed gangster who plans a successful robbery with a friend of his, Mikey Chalmette, and another couple (Sunny Boid and Rafe Garrett). During the heist, Johnny and Mikey are double-crossed by Sunny and Rafe---Mikey is killed and Johnny sent to prison. While in prison, Johnny is invited to a rehabilitation program, where Dr. Steven Fischer rebuilds Johnny's face and helps Johnny get paroled. Johnny starts working in a shipyard, where he meets Donna McCarty and starts a romance. Lt. A.Z. Drones is a skeptical detective who follows the rehabilitation of Johnny. Johnny's new life is consumed by the desire of payback. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Al Pacino was initially interested in playing the title character and worked with the producers on developing the script, but ultimately dropped out of the project due to script problems; Pacino felt, despite numerous revisions, they had never been able to transcend the script's B-movie qualities. See more »
During the graveyard scene, Larry "pumps" the action on a double barreled shotgun. See more »
The ratings at IMDb are generally pretty accurate; if a film is rated 8, it's good, if it's rated 6 it's not so good, and if it's rated 4, you shouldn't waste your time. This is the first time I can remember being really baffled by a rating - this film really deserves to be rated much higher.
The plot is simple enough. Johnny Handsome has been given an ironic name because of his hideous disfigurement which makes him repulsive to everyone he meets. In the circumstances, he doesn't have much choice but to turn to crime, and when he's betrayed by his accomplices, he ends up in jail. There he meets a brilliant surgeon, who fixes his face and makes him look like - well, like Mickey Rourke. Released on parole he finds a job and a girlfriend, but he can't escape his grim past and his need for vengeance.
Now I'm not saying the film is perfect by any means. There are plot holes a-go-go, and the whole thing falls apart a bit in the last twenty minutes or so - the ending is especially disappointing. But come on, it's better than 5.6, with good performances from Rourke, Forest Whitaker and a turn of twinkly eyed cynicism from Morgan Freeman, who effortlessly steals every scene he appears in. And let's not forget a deliciously over the top effort from Ellen Barkin as the baddest girl ever to walk the earth.
It isn't Shakespeare, but it's directed in typically robust style by Walter Hill, and to my surprise I found myself caring about Johnny and hoping it all worked out for him. I won't say whether it does or not, because it's worth seeing this one to find out for yourself. Just get a big bucket of popcorn and don't think too much, and you'll have a great time.
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