Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man 1.0 stars

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man movie poster

A couple of worm-eaten hunks of beefcake, Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson, are quite well cast in a boys-who-never-grew-up fantasy set in the year 1996. Burbank is now the site of an international airport, and the boys' favorite watering hole, the Rock 'n' Roll Bar and Grille (a decor incongruously featuring John Wayne and Alan Ladd, a torch singer for live entertainment), sits on a prime piece of real estate, and the bank will renew the expired lease only at a price of two and a half million. Obvious course of action: rob the bank. This decision becomes morally justifiable when the armored car turns out to be carrying no cash but a cargo of a hot new designer drug called Crystal Dream (whose effects are described — "You put it in your eyes and it tells you lies" — but never demonstrated). In short, it's all about freedom versus civilization, nonconformism versus "suits," Good Old Boys versus Bad New Mature Men. The villains all dress the same, move like robots, and are impervious to bullets. The good guys may wear stereotyped uniforms themselves — biker and cowpoke, respectively — but at least they're the only ones in 1996 still wearing them. Notwithstanding their cri de guerre — "Better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool" — Rourke and Johnson are as phony, as corny, as schmaltzy as can be. But Simon Wincer's seamless, slithery direction displays an abundance, a surplus, a wastage, of pure filmmaking skill. 1991.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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