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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap87.5%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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Wanted: Dead or Alive
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by Jack Sommersby

"Hoary Hauer Star Vehicle"
1 stars

Having grossed just $7,555,000 in its theatrical run, this was yet another of those subpar New World Pictures products that helped sink the company.

In the terminally dull Wanted: Dead or Alive, Rutger Hauer gives what must be the most somnolent performance ever by an actor in an action-hero role. As Nick Randall, a third-generation bounty hunter who lives in a giant L.A. loft, has enough guns to outfit a decent-sized army, and is an ex-CIA operative, Hauer has no problem conveying the world-weariness of the character but when the story starts to heat up he's still only a few missing heartbeats away from being a corpse. Which is a shame because he previously demonstrated an intense internal alertness as the terrorist in Nighthawks, the swordsman in Ladyhawke, and the loony-toons nomad in The Hitcher, though here he's got that latter-day Steven Seagal pudginess thing going -- suffice to say, he's not exactly the kind of hero who can literally spring into action. Unfortunately, Hauer isn't the only debit here, for the story is for the birds and the execution so decidedly lacking it were as if one of Romero's zombies has taken the directorial reins. For what it's worth, the story involves Randall lured out of retirement by "The Company" to do battle with an arch-nemesis from the past who he failed to eliminate and who is starting to wreak havoc on a major city starting with the bombing of a movie theatre; he's told it's a "flashpoint" situation (whatever that is) and only he alone has a chance of nailing the bastard, which will bring him a two-hundred-thousand-dollar reward and an extra fifty-grand if turned over alive. Gene Simmons, who was fairly menacing in Michael Crichton's underrated Runaway, plays the villain Malak and isn't the least bit interesting -- he's so detached and noncommittal you feel he couldn't organize even a robbery of a neighborhood lemonade stand. So with such severe liabilities in both the good and bad guy departments the film really needs good action sequences; unfortunately, they're totally lackadaisical in the hands of director Gary Sherman, who showed talent in Vice Squad and Dead and Buried but is all-thumbs here with scenes that aren't properly cut together to generate tension and momentum. Again, it's another case of someone laying down on the job, though the screenplay-by-committee (three writers including Sherman concocted it) doesn't exactly smoothly segue from one plot turn to another -- then again, using a drowsy harmonica score in an actioner probably wasn't the greatest idea (it's as baffling a gaffe as the grating piano score in the insipid The Firm). Wanted: Dead or Alive is a fugue-state of a film that's dead weight from start to finish, with the mediocre romantic subplot with Mel Harris's pathetically-drawn love interest particularly blah. In fact, the sole saving grace is a pair of excellent supporting turns by William Russ as Randall's LAPD buddy and, especially, Robert Guillaume as his trusted Fed comrade who runs interference in trying to keep his superiors from slowing Randall down by using him as bait so they can make the capture and get all the glory. They're both vivid and forceful and so many mercury-rising degrees better than the other contributors that they only accentuate just how much a shambles the project they've valiantly survived so disastrously is.

Great alternative to a sleeping pill.

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originally posted: 08/31/09 22:50:04
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User Comments

9/01/09 dennis lemons gene simmons is a great terrorist ,lots of action 5 stars
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  N/A (R)
  DVD: 08-May-2001

  28-May-1987 (18)

  28-May-1987 (R)

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