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 ... See full summary »
Johnny Walker is a cowboy and a boxer. He is very shy and a bit of a fool. He is in love with Ruby, but he cannot tell her. He is also a bit old to keep on boxing, but its the only thing he... See full summary »
Two Arkansas firemen, Vince and Don, get hold of a map that leads to a cache of stolen gold in an abandoned factory in East St. Louis. What they don't know is that the factory is in the ... See full summary »
Martin Fallon is an IRA bomber who tries to blow up a troop truck but instead kills a bus load of school children. He loses heart and quits the movement and goes to London trying to leave ... See full summary »
In the depression, Chaney, a strong silent streetfighter, joins with Speed, a promoter of no-holds-barred street boxing bouts. They go to New Orleans where Speed borrows money to set up ... See full summary »
The tough biker Harley and his no less tough cowboy friend Marlboro learn that an old friend of theirs will lose his bar, because a bank wants to build a new complex there and demands 2.5 ... See full summary »
"The Driver" is a specialist in a rare business: he drives getaway cars in robberies. His exceptional talent prevented him from being caught yet. After another successful flight from the ... See full summary »
A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition ... See full summary »
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
In a 1st October 1989 interview with 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', director Walter Hill said: "I kept turning it down. No studio wanted to make it, and I didn't think any actor would be willing to play it. I wasn't sure the audience would buy the gimmick of the plastic surgery. It's an old-fashioned melodramatic device. Then about a year ago, I decided to do it. First, I figured that Hollywood is based on melodrama anyway and, second, I thought up a way to present the story in a way that resisted histrionics. More importantly, I found an actor who could play Johnny and not make it risible. Someone who understood the pitfalls of the thing. The main thing is that motion pictures have conditioned us to expect psychological realism. This is a drama in a different category. It's about moral choices. I knew I was on very thin ice. If you let any histrionics in, it will fall apart. You have to trust the drama of the whole rather than an individual scene. And that's antithetical to most actors. They want to know, 'Where's my big moment? When do I get to cry and scream?'. Mickey understood that". See more »
During the graveyard scene, Larry "pumps" the action on a double barreled shotgun. See more »
Compromised Hill film buoyed by three terrific performances
"Johnny Handsome" is a flawed but fascinating work from Walter Hill. Mickey Rourke is great as a deformed criminal who returns to avenge the people (Ellen Barkin and Lance Henriksen) who wronged him. The conceit of the premise is that Johnny's enemies will not see him coming with his new face, a face rebuilt after his ugly one was cut to pieces. Unfortunately, this potentially rich premise is quickly discarded and the film becomes a more standard crime yarn with a pointless love story thrown in. Johnny's love interest, Elizabeth McGovern, who was great in a similar role in "Racing With The Moon", is wasted and just doesn't belong in this material.
Lance Henriksen and Ellen Barkin are great as two of the oiliest lowlifes to impact with a movie screen in years. Barkin's pronunciation of the word "geek", when referring to Rourke's character, is hilarious, as is the crime couple's incessant badgering of each other. If the film had focused more on this duo and less on McGovern and another subplot involving Forest Whitaker, who is saddled with a dreadfully written role as a doctor who tries to help Johnny, it would have been a true contender.
The opening robbery scene is classic Hill -- brutal and economical -- and sets high expectations for the mayhem to come. Ry Cooder's slide guitar score is mesmerizing, and Mathew F. Leonetti's cinematography is moody and beguiling.
Ultimately, the film is a gritty pulp crime novel compromised by studio concessions. Which is such a crying shame.
21 of 27 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?