Search and Destroy (1995) Poster

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A great movie that somehow slipped under everyones radar.
kodak00714 March 2007
Greetings to the rare few who have sought out this title on IMDb, and the rarer few who have chosen to read my little rant. Hope it sits well with you....

I have to say that this movie is one of the rare pieces of film that shows what can be accomplished with no money at all, or little money.

Scene to scene, moment to moment, it is the essence of what a "low budget movie" can accomplish, it does not wallow in what it cant do, and focuses on what it needs to do, to tell a story. There are moments in it, where you totally don't realize how little it took to create the scene, and its because your lost in the story, and thats what gives the film so much strength.

True enough, if you have the cast this film has, you can do little wrong. But its great to see that each member does their part, and keeps up with the story, and makes it all seamless.

The travel scene to NYC with Douglas and Dunn is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with creative thinking and attention to character. without a airport being shut down to accommodate a production schedule that is based more on ego than need.

There are moments of sheer perfection in this film that i, as a avid lover of film and movies have rarely seen. for over ten years now i have proudly listed this film in my top favorites, as its eccentricities grow more and more lovely upon each watching.

The arc is there, and so is the commitment to the ideas that it presents almost immediately as its thesis. Waxling is the truth sayer in this piece of fiction, and he lets you know right away what to expect.

i remember being up late, watching HBO, High, Bored, and finding this film. It was a huge factor in my interest in film school. The tone is unmatched in my opinion. As it is a complete work, not quirky for the sake of it, as so many other movies rely on... but quirky due to the fact that life is quirky, off, odd.

You can be what you want, you can do what you want, this movie sums that up in a rare way that i have not often seen, and i appreciate upon each watching...

Dr Waxlings comments are gold. All and all i am proud to be in the small group of people that promote this film to no advantage of self, as it addresses many of the same issues that other films like Fight Club go in to in a more serious, bigger budget way.

Check it out. Break out your VHS player, and be ready to want to rewind and see it again.

Really a gem in the wild.

Boo Ya!
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A Misunderstood masterpiece
Matt19 September 2006
This is a gem that is lost amongst the crap that came out in the mid nineties American cinema. The first time I saw this film I thought that it was bizarre, yet in some odd way compelling. I have since seen it seven or eight more times and it gets better each time. The humor is dark and unconventional, and the dialog is odd in that it is difficult to determine whether or not its meant to be funny or is simply poor writing, I still have not figured that out which is probably one of the reasons I love this film.

The cast is of course outstanding, which is why I first rented this film knowing nothing about it. It must have had a very short theater shelf life. Dennis Hopper, Ethan Hawke and produced by Martin Scorcese, how could you go wrong? But the truly outstanding performance, and the majority of the quotable lines are spoken by Christopher Walken. His characters name is Kim Ulander, classic, and walken does what walken does best in this role, he plays a psychopath. See this film, and see it again and again and again.
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An Amazing Surprise!
joelmeggs4 January 2005
This movie is incredible. It's got fantastic dialog and terrific performances from Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper. That it was originally for the stage is pretty obvious; it just has that feel to it. But so did Glengarry Glen Ross, and that too was a terrific movie.

I don't know if the film is really any sort of meaningful commentary on modern life. I think maybe it tries. The whole thing centers around an infomercial for an adventure story that's a metaphor for self-improvement/self-discovery a la Celestine Prophecy. Mostly it's just about weird characters in weird situations and excellent dialog.

I can't say enough good things about this movie. Anyone who has a taste for weird, black-comedy is going adore this film. 8.5 out of 10.
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offbeat, funny, quirky gem
vincent-2710 March 1999
Great movie, probably one my favorites, although I'm not sure why. Technically, it's pretty sloppy but I just love the cast, the crazy rapid-fire delivery of Turturo, the eerie deadpan Walken, the manic Dunne. Griffin Dunne performs a souped reprise of his role in "After Hours", although he overacts at times, he has the desperate loser role down pat. The movie title, to me, is about searching for what you love and then destroying it, something most of us seem to do over and over again. I like this movie more and more each time I see it, although the sloppiness bugs me increasingly as well. There is a message here about the dangers of pop psychology and new age mantras, but muddled among the nonsense sayings there are some meaningful comments. My favorite is the observation that "We are afraid of change, we are lazy and we are addicted to our pain". How true....
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Movie Making the Easy Way
cvanepps22 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
DETAILED PLOT SUMMARY AND SPOILERS (if that's possible for a 1995 movie)

The first time I saw Search and Destroy, I disliked it. I thought it was trying to jump on the Pulp Fiction bandwagon by putting words like "off-beat" and "eccentric" on the video cover. Then I thought about what I'd seen and it truly affected me the way the lead character in the film is affected by a certain book he reads.

His name is Martin Mirkheim, played brilliantly by Griffin Dunne, and he is a truly unique film character in that he believes in himself. He truly believes in the power of himself and his ability to create dynamic change within a static environment. It is exciting to watch the process of each of his failures and successes.

The book that inspires him is similar to a Dianetics type of book but without the cult-like following that Scientology implies. The book is about a child who goes on an adventure to find his strengths, test & eliminate his weaknesses, and learn about the world the way it really is. Most importantly, having learned about the world the child now can understand his place in the world and how he can initiate change.

The author, Dr. Luther Waxling, played by Dennis Hopper, is a down & out cable access show host who wrote the book many years ago in his glory. Back then, Waxling may have believed in himself but now he just wants to make money through his TV show and from his self-improvement classes. At that point in the movie, I figured I had the plot down: Martin was going to show Waxling where he went wrong. You know; the ol' student-teaches-the-teacher gag (yawwn) but I was glad to be wrong.

Instead, Martin wants to buy the rights to Waxling's book and make a movie out of it but Martin doesn't have any money to give him. Martin calls Kim Ulander, played by Christopher Walken, whom he met earlier at a party. Walken is the type of actor who doesn't get bothered at the fact that he's typecast as the wacko. Walken has accepted it and I think at this point in his life he embraces it. And what a wacko he plays. There's one scene where he's in a kareoke bar and he performs a lounge song that made me want to slit my wrists. Martin and his assistant Marie, played by Illeanna Douglass, hook up with Kim. Together they try to raise capital to buy the rights to the book.

Martin's journey to reach his goal mirrors what's portrayed in the Waxling book but that's the obvious side. There is a second variable that makes it more interesting: Walken. Walken's character, Kim, has read the book too. Kim is also a big Waxling fan but he has interpreted the book's message a little more literally than Martin. Kim is a businessman who's tired of the rat race; he wants to test his strengths in a different venue. With each new conflict we get two different reactions; Martin's and Kim's. The interaction between these two characters is what makes the movie shine to the very end.

Watching Search and Destroy is a bit like sitting through one of those inspirational seminars. At the beginning, you're convinced you won't enjoy it and that it's all a sham. At the end, you're ready to inspire others.
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A quirky, dark satire
CandyR13 September 1998
This movie seemed to be a snowballing sequence of mishaps - similar to what happens in "After Hours" from 1985. Things keep getting worse for the main character, but it kept me intrigued. Dennis Hopper is an interesting character in this one. As usual, Chris Walken steals the show as a business man and somewhat "off-kilter" character who enjoys an evening of Karaoke. I would recommend it to people who enjoy strange movies. Personally, I enjoyed it.
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Where's Salle?
farararaf20 September 2006
Why the hell has David Salle never done another movie? He got famous as a painter back in the 80s and, like his contemporary, Julian Schnabel, got signed on to direct a film with a great cast and decent distribution. Unlike Schnabel, he's not overrated (as a painter or director).

You might expect tedium and pomposity from an artist-director, but that's certainly not the case here. This movie is as fun as a trip to Coney Island!

This is a really nice ensemble comedy with surprises lurking around every turn. If you're a fan of Illeana Douglas, John Turturro, or Christopher Walken, this is certainly not to be missed.
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One Of Walken's Best
tzer013 July 2004
This is indeed a quirky movie, so Walken is clearly in his element. Griffen Dunne does seem like he's playing the same character in After Hours, only he has fallen on hard times. Dennis Hopper's character, Dunne thinks, holds the key to a brighter future, but only if he can raise the money to turn Hopper's book into a film. That's where Walken's character comes in. But he doesn't want to give him the money directly. He's read Hopper's book too, and wants to help Dunne empower himself, by finding a deal that can help Dunne raise the money, which is where Taturo character comes in. Taturo is a perfect foil for Walken's laid back style. He's no Barton Fink here, but just as weird. If quirky comedies that chug there way over the top are your thing, this movie is for you!
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Highly recommended for the strange taste
alexander.stroeck28 June 2001
This is surely one of the funniest comedies I´ve ever seen - especially in terms of strange characters. Walken is over the top here - and the others follow. You will hear unbelievable weired dialoges with grip and power. Those who compared this movie to Mr. Scorseses "After Hours" are right! You feel Scorseses guiding hand (-producer) behind the scenes. Well-said enough-watch it if you want to enter a new universe of fun!
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Amazing cast .... but the film is way less than the sum of it's parts ......
merklekranz17 February 2010
Rarely has such an amazing cast been wasted so badly. Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Illeana Douglas, Ethan Hawke, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, and John Turturro, all jumped on board, only to be torpedoed by a script that seems like nothing more than a Hollywood in joke. Attaching Martin Scorsese's name to this was probably the draw, but the end result is way less than the sum of it's parts. Resembling a nightmare gone horribly wrong, each scene seems more contrived than the next. "Search and Destroy" is nothing more than abstract, stylish, self indulgent nonsense, and the entire film is decidedly dull.......... MERK
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best movie ever
kmlewis-12 September 2006
this movie is great. Walkens best performance ever.hopper is's flawless. not a bad scene in it.levels upon levels.the more you watch it the more you get from it.iv'e seen it over ten times and have never fast forward in any parts. Griffin Dunne should have won an Oscar he is brilliant. Also John Turturro is hilarious.great great great this movie should be huge.I wish David Salle would make another movie.i love the way its directed. when Walken, Dougless, and Dunne are sitting at the table in the restaurant a different color comes up behind them i love that.and when Dunne is running and they repeat it over and over i love that.
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An artistic effort outside competition
schwitzo21 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Scene in the car:

"Ron: If i may be so bold, what birthday is it? Marie: Thirty. Ron: Spring chicken. Listen, have you noticed. Listen, the older you get, the faster time moves..."

Learned this 15 years too late. Something that should be thought in grade school before any mention of sciences. This movie is full of really quotable material, but its used merely as the background for the story, as so many other expression forms i have only come to see reasonably applied in this particular movie.

In my opinion, the stories backbone is made of the relationship between the two characters Martin and Kim, as mentioned in another comment both have read the famous "Daniel Strong" book and have been inspired by it. The turning part of the story is the moment where the dedicated personality beats the superficial one. The strong Martin kills Kim who just bit off more then he could chew.

It is this for that i think the performance of both Dunne and Walken can not be compared, nor could they have been more appropriate for this purpose. If the perception of Matrin was portrayed just a little bit stronger, or the Kim figure any less decisive and spontaneous, this turn of sides (fate) could not have been pointed out to the perfection to which it finally was.
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christopher walken
louiex1 May 2004
christopher walkens best preformance ever!!! if you are a fan of walken or dennis hopper you must see this movie.

it's weird but never boring. also it's unpredictable. and you can read into it endlessly if you want to know what it's trying to say,or you cad just sit back for the ride. How Fu*&ing good is Cristopher Walken. great! Funny! Entertaining! origanal!
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Oh Illeanna, how could you?
nzpedals8 December 2015
You are such a good actor, and you do such a good job here, but... how could you agree to be part of such a load of silliness? All your scenes are the only good parts of this dreary, unpleasant story.

OK, the start is OK, but then it gets simply boring. Guys yacking, nothing much happens... until near the end, and then it gets pointless, dreadful and marginally criminal? There is brutal murder, and then... we suddenly flip to the screening of your "masterpiece", Dead World. So funny.

Illeanna is the receptionist to some weirdo who has written a book that some guy wants the rights of to make a movie, but he doesn't have any money to buy the rights, so, he meets up with a drug dealer. The intended purchase and sale falls through, so what does he do now?

There is some other deal arranged and how they get to start shooting is beyond me, it is incomprehensible.

I don't want to rate it.
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Nicely bizarre Hollywood satire
NateWatchesCoolMovies30 August 2015
Search And Destroy is an exceptionally weird, nearly impenetrable satire of Hollywood, produced by Martin Scorsese (he also cameos). It's essentially just a series of odd, puzzling vignettes vaguely based on business and movie archetypes we've all come to know, and love to make fun of. As far as coherent story or heartbeat, look elsewhere. You may however enjoy it's oddball characters, and you've got to do a double take when you see how many awesome actors are in the cast, in a film you've probably never heard of. Griffin Dunne, who started in Scorsese's excellent After Hours, plays Martin Mirkheim, a shameless moronic suck up desperately trying to get his awful script sold to some show business bigwigs. Along the way he meets a host of hives inducing freaks that one might expect to find in early 1990's film scene. Dennis Hopper lurks into the frame as Dr. Luther Waxling, a batty self help guru and author of a pretentious psychobabble book starring an allegorical man (Robert Knepper). John Turturro ramps up the mania past his Big Lebowski role (yes, it's possible) as a demented agent, Ethan Hawke plays adislikable assistant to Hooper. Roseanne Arquette is Dunne's hampered wife, Illeana Douglas is great as Hopper's oddball girlfriend who takes up with Mirkheim. Her schlocky horror movie pitch monologue up is a highlight. Stealing the show, however, and can we expect anything less from him, is Christopher Walken. He plays Kim Ulander, a wondrous Walken creation, a shady, pleasant mannered ad exec who goes absolutely postal at the drop of a hat, the funniest sociopath you could ever hope to meet. This film doesn't mean much. It's more of a subtle, deliberate perversion of the industry that forms it, biting the hand that feeds it while it's tongue is right in its cheek. Enjoy it for its abstract, absurd dialogue, weirdo fucknut characters, and darkly silly, nonsensical, self destructive aura. Those are probably the key reasons that this wasn't well received. They're all the reasons I got a nasty kick out of it.
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This masterpiece was written for just one person. Me.
mrbusyb3 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
You know, if we all accepted ourselves playfully as the planet of hypocrits we truly are by never taking ourselves too seriously, then the only bad actors in our dramas about life would be those intolerant audience members in the movie who get up to storm off in a huffy right before the true meaning of it is revealed! Back in 1995, I guess that included just about everyone. This movie is really misunderstood and who can blame the audience as the flick was meant to ridicule about everyone, but mainly the sophisticated talksie dialog movies that were being shown at the art movie houses and on the big commercial screens as well. This movie doesn't suck while it isn't about movies that suck, but it's actually more about why movies will one day suck, which, as we can plainly see nowadays, most of them do. Back during this absurd age of making lots of movies with dialog, we are talking the likes of Pulp Fiction (1994) here, in comparison, the nonsense written in this movie flows along gorgeously! And, speaking of gorgeous, check out the inward beauty that pretty Illeana Douglas so wonderfully expresses in this movie. Indeed, there are three beautiful women altogether in this movie, but she really takes the cake! I think her performance is masterful. Especially when one juxtaposes her against the unexpected appearance of the nude blond model. When she blazed on the screen, I had a difficult time focusing in on her. At first, I didn't even know what I was looking at. As her breasts began to come into focus, my first thoughts were, "Well, her nipples seem rather small and her breasts look kind of saggy." But then, being a typical male, as I started connected the whole of her nudeful body parts together into a uniform flow of form, function, tecture, tone, and all those other artsy sophistications the crowd at Starbucks likes tossing about, well, the blond simply looked smashing. Griffin Dunne plays a Woody Allen part so brilliantly that he out Woody Allens the great Woody Allen himself. In my opinion, this movie is better than any produced and directed by Woody Allen. In fact, if the comedian actor had written, directed, and starred in it, the movie would have gone down as an all time classic. And did I mention how gorgeous Rosanna Arquette was in her performance? Her blend of bite and bustiness is surely the kind of woman I desire, you know, the kind who is always nibbling on the ear lobe complaining about having been born cheated into this world. Once again, the quality of the acting in this movie is quite useful in keeping ones attention fixed on the potential that there just might be something meaningful hidden deep in the script. I really liked this movie. For the $2.99 I paid, it was a bargain. I would have even considered paying $10.00 for this movie which is a lot in my world. Well, maybe $9.99. All toes point upward on this movie.
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Just because it happened to you...doesn't make it interesting.
Stash27 November 2007
Just because it happened to you...doesn't make it interesting...That's right.

The international name for this movie "The Four Rules" (the above being one of them) is infinitely more closer to the truth than "Search and Destroy" which sounds like a Dolph Lundgren vehicle and must bear some responsibility for this golden nugget to be relegated to the movie alternate reality version of the "missing sock syndrome".

Turrito is better here than in Barton Fink, Hopper is at his merciless best, while Walken steals the show.

If all movies contained the relentless WIT of this would be a wittier world.

And a world full of wits is decidedly more humorous and fun than a world full of half-wits....*sigh* oh well...
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Great story, great cast. I think this is a very underrated movie
zumbi_do_asfalto20 July 2002
Great story, great cast. I think this is a very underrated movie, unfortunately i've noticed so few people seem to have really enjoyed it. It's a typical 90's indie movie, with odd characters and something to say, not the usual blockbuster automatic pilot. For me, it mainly shows the contrast of our childhood and teenage beliefs from the adultwood letdowns, when we have to deal with petty stuff like money and how to make a living. Our 60's rock stars, for instance, could be represented by the Dennis Hopper character, only interested nowadays with the movie producer's wallet and the money he can offer for his book's rights. And the bored grown up kid, leading a tedious life as an executive, trying to get rid of his yuppie routine by following the book's rules by every word, even if it means killing someone. For him, that's a breakthrough of some sort. Christopher Walken in one of his best maniac performances. I'd love to see another David Salle's incursion into moviemaking.
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wickedly funny
mug887 April 1999
This movie is in the realm of genius. Turturro's performance is outstandingly quirky; Walken is frighteningly strange and unhinged. A classic if you would like to see something a bit different.
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petty good (but same old Walken)
winner5525 December 2007
Very nasty satire on the problems with having a single vision when approaching the art - and business - of film-making.

Most of it is quite good - neatly written, acted, filmed, and nicely paced.

The film has a big weakness - Christopher Walken. He plays the same character he has played for the past 15 years, and frankly, I've had enough of it. I won't tell the whole story here - but his character should have been offed in the first third of the movie. Unfortunately, that character is pivotal - and that's a big mistake - he's too slimly to carry this film, he drags it down.In the bit with the IRS accountant, nicely played by executive producer Martin Scorcese, I couldn't help thinking of the brilliant, and long forgot, comedy "A New Leaf" with Walter Matthau. And there are enough chops in the script, and among the other actors, to have produced a film to rival that one.

But it's the same old same old Christopher Walken, isn't it? Pretty good - but could have been better.
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Strangely Funny
Rodrigo Amaro13 November 2010
Griffin Dunne plays a out of luck businessman filled with debts and no money at all who has the brilliant idea of become a film producer in Hollywood and finally do something that will last, to do something that people will remember him. His dream project is to adapt a famous book written by a guru (Dennis Hopper) into the screen. While on his way to adapt the book he'll meet the potential investors that includes Kim a friendly but suspect businessman (Christopher Walken) and another strange guy (John Turturro), some drug dealers and work with Marie (Illeanna Douglas) former secretary of the guru who wants to write and direct her own film, a bizarre horror story.

In "Search and Destroy" things move like a Coen's brother movie but without the cleverness and the sinister side of one of them. It drags the viewers for an hour and half only with dialogs and dialogs (sometimes it gets very repetitive, the actor talks the same line twice), and then in the last half hour the story grows hysterically funnier and darker, frightening if you prefer. Turturro made the film funnier with his fast talking character and Walken made the story more and more tense, funny sometimes.

And because of this moments and the great cast I'll give a positive review for this film, the only directed by the famous artist David Salle. To many people out there it might seen a boring film where almost nothing happens, looks like empty but it's not. It tells a story of overcoming bad things and creating another crazy situations, the whole thing mentioned by the guru about the rules of life, things that he included on the book and are mentioned over and over by the characters are very sarcastic (things such as "the past is meaningless" and "never say you're sorry"). 8/10

For movie comments, talks and etc follow me on Twitter at @wortzik and reply at me about some of the reviews I'm writing here.
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