Video Review by Tammy Vrieze
Directed by Simon Wincer
MGM/UA Home Video, 1991
Rated R; 1 Hour 38 minutes
John Travolta may have been the epitome of cool in the seventies, but the eighties brought us cool personified with Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson in Harley Davidson and The Marlboro Man. They’re cool to a degree that goes beyond Izod shirts and pinned jean cuffs because the film shows us life in 1996, at that time the future, now the past. Gas prices are $4 a gallon, the ozone layer is depleted, and there’s a new deadly drug on the streets.
Mickey Rourke is Harley Davidson looking mighty sexy in his full leathers and riding his late model custom Harley decked out with light-up spark plug caps and a polished steel tank. He walks into a gas station as it’s being held up, casually kicks the crap out of the would be robbers, pays for his gas and leaves.
Don Johnson is Marlboro, a Vegas born cowboy, a pool shark, and a dead shot. Ironically he is a nonsmoker, yet he’s always got a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He’s worn the same pair of cowboy boots for twenty odd years which he holds together with duct tape. He cruises the streets of Burbank, flips off a motorcycle cop and a chase begins. He gets caught and then he beds her down. The policewoman’s name is Virginia Slim. Go figure.
Once we get past the cheesy and oh so exaggerated character profiles, the action begins. With a little help from their friends the boys plan to rob an armored truck. They need 2.5 million dollars to renew the lease of their favorite saloon. Things go off without a hitch until an alarm is triggered, but it’s not the cops who show up. Clad in bulletproof black leather from head to toe, here come the bad guys looking as if they had just escaped from a Devo video. After a narrow escape thanks to some help from their friend, Jack Daniels, the guys discover that instead of money they have stolen a fortune in Crystal Dream, the new drug sweeping the nation. They spend the rest of the film trying to stay alive and even the score.
Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is definitely a Hollywood movie. It’s predictable and the sex appeal is overemphasized, but it’s entertaining and easy to watch. Tom Sizemore shines as the villainous bank president and drug lord, while Vanessa Williams and Tia Carrere appear briefly and serve only as window dressing. Simon Wincer, who brought us such gems as Quigley Down Under and Lonesome Dove, has finally directed a film I can sit through.