Rakesh's movie talk
Tequila Sunrise (1988)

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Directed by Robert Towne
Written by Robert Towne
Starring Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Raul Julia


I have always liked Mel Gibson, until he started to do some turkeys like The Patriot, Forever Young and Conspiracy Theory. I never knew the extend of his over-acting until I saw them. But I have forgiven him. He was good in Payback and was always perfect in the Lethal Weapon movies. I guess its the genre. Crime does pay for Mel.

Here, in between his early Lethal Weapon movies, he plays the guy in the opposite side of the fence, a drug dealer, Dale McKussic. A sympathetic one. An ex-drug dealer looking to get out. You can line up the cliche scenes after these and most do appear on this film. But while it started out as something with bang-bang stuff in it, the film quickly mellows and becomes a, pardon my language, chick-flick, with love triangle forming the foundation of the plot.

He falls in love with Michelle Pfeiffers character Joe Ann Valenari and has to face a stiff competition from his pal and also enemy cop,Nick Frescia, played confidently by Kurt Russell. What follows is labyrinthine plot of cat and mouse game. There's a drug supplier, Escalante, played by Raul Julia and McKussic's own family consisting of his ex-wife and son. There's family tension, love affair and dangerous liaison with a drug supplier. Swell plot. Boring movie.

Robert Towne is mostly known for his superb script in Chinatown. Not particularly a likeable character (read my Thunderbolts and Lightfoot piece in Movie Talk section), he is admired for his writing skill. I have not seen his Personal Best, but I believe he is supposed to pull it off as a director. Unfortunately, he is not somewhat complete as one in this film. While he manages to create the noir feeling, indulge in superb cinematography and lighting, he fails in the actor department. I felt Mel and Michelle's performance are not quite up to their best. Scenes involving them are more yawn inducing even when Towne manage to give some pretty cute lines to speak. It slows the movie down and you will go into the routine of checking your watch and ultimately reach for the remote control.

Thank God for Russell and Julia. Russell provides the light moment as well as action, being a cop and all. Here, he plainly proves why he is a much better actor. This sort of genre belongs to him. In fact, I have wrote about this somewhere else, but he could fit in any genre comfortably, playing a believable hero, somewhat in the classics mold (Peck and Lancaster comes to my mind). His scenes especially with Gibson is brilliant. He really saves the day. Same goes to Julia, who I have never seen failing. Imagine, he even stole the show from Redford (Havana) and Eastwood (The Rookie). He is a dangerous actor, a very rare kind. Too bad, he had gone to meet the maker to give him a good time. Watch out for his scenes in this movie and you know what I am talking about.

I got nothing else to praise about this movie. The music is lazy. I like jazz but not this soft-ass type. You want good jazz background score, watch Dirty Harry. Towne was supposed to have directed The Two Jakes, the sequel to Chinatown, and now I can understand how that movie would have looked like. If you like good dialogues and scene stealing acts, watch this movie. Don't watch it too late in the night, unless you are having insomnia. Enjoy.