Film Scouts Reviews

"Broken Arrow"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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Feb 6, 1996

May Day! May Day! Testosterone Overload! What do you get when you combine JohnTravolta, Christian Slater, a military plot and John Woo, Hong Kong's premiere action director? "Broken Arrow". Every macho stud pilot wants to fly the Stealth bomber these guys get to takeit up with two nuclear warheads. Travolta and Slater aren't just co-workers, but mentor andprotege. And in case you can't tell that from the dialogue there is a boxing scene that opensthe movie to explain the entire movie to you. Travolta is immediately the sly villain, which is achange of pace for him. And Slater is the heroic nice guy. Oh, and Howie Long, an analyst for"fox NFL Sunday" makes his acting debut. Thirteen years as an LA Raider must not have donetoo much damage as he does a passable job.

What intrigued me most was Woo's visual style. When Samantha Mathis as the Park Rangerconfronts Slater for the first time, it is sharp as a new razor. The action sequences areimaginative and yet not as full of gore as they could have been. When I read that QuentinTarantino introduced John Travolta to John Woo, it made me realize that Tarantino has beenfollowing in Woo's footsteps for a while but pushing the more bloody aspects on to the screen. What I don't think Woo was prepared for was the studio machinery which allowed him free reinwith Van Damme's "Hard Target", but kept "Broken Arrow" in post production editing formonths past the original release date. It is very evident in the latter half, when Mathismovements are rather inexplicable. Not that I think most people will care. Part of the rapid firepace of "Broken Arrow" has to be attributed to Graham Yost though. He penned "Speed" andwas out to give us another great ride. He became fascinated with the concept of the brokenarrow, the military phrase for a lost nuclear weapon. "I don't know what's scarier, the fact thatthere are missing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often that there's a term for it." Yostgives the line to a young Washington analyst, but it sums up Yost's own interest in the subject.

"Broken Arrow" covers the themes of honor, betrayal, friendship. It has action, explosions andlying Washington bureaucrats. There is even a little romance. Sounds like a winner to me. Rated R.

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