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 ...
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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
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 »
It is rare that a movie with a premise as far-fetched as Johnny Handsome could wind up being so memorable. It helps when a top notch action director is assisted by an outstanding ensemble cast firing on all cylinders to make this story believable.
Johnny Handsome hit theaters in the fall of '89. It bombed, largely due to a weak promotional campaign by Tri-Star pictures. 19 years later, it is still unavailable on DVD. The excellent cast includes Ellen Barkin, Scott Wilson, and future Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Forrest Whittaker. However, it is Mickey Rourke in the title role and Lance Henriksen as his arch-nemesis who truly hit grand slams with their performances. The heartbreaking original score by Ry Cooder and the rich atmosphere of the New Orleans setting also elevate this material considerably. This is not your typical revenge action picture.
The movie can best be described as a gritty, noir-ish crime drama with a sci-fi twist that maintains plausibility instead of running off the rails into comedic territory as with 1997's Face/Off. The film moves at a brisk pace, which is fine, but this fact ultimately winds up being the only flaw with Johnny Handsome. One almost gets the impression more was filmed but the studio demanded a 90 minute cut. A Special Edition director's cut DVD is warranted. A longer run time allowing for more scenes to flesh out the characters portrayed by the great supporting cast would have made this already outstanding film a true classic.
It would really be nice to see Walter Hill direct another action film one of these days. Hill and Peckinpah were the real deals. Other filmmakers (such as John Woo) strive to match the perfection of these two, but have yet to achieve it.
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