Tag Archives: Warren Clarke

Firefox (1982, Clint Eastwood)

Firefox has three distinct phases. First, there's retired Air Force pilot Clint Eastwood getting recruited into an espionage mission. This part of the film barely takes any time at all–there's three missing months–Eastwood, as the director, does not like montage sequences. Even the opening exposition setting up the movie is cut together quickly; Ron Spang and Ferris Webster's editing is fantastic throughout. The opening sequence just introduces them as an essential component to the film.

The second phase is the espionage phase. Eastwood heads to Russia, where he meets up with dissident Warren Clarke who's going to help him. This part of the film is the most impressive. It's constant action as Eastwood is on the run from the KGB; the script's a little strange–it never lets Eastwood be in control during this section. He's always a few steps behind. Clarke's great.

The final phase is the extended fighter jet sequence. Most of the film before this sequence–except the opening–is either inside or takes place at night. The flight sequences are effects galore and Bruce Surtees shows off how startling he can make some of the shots. It's not a particularly exciting sequence; it takes over thirty minutes. It's practically its own movie, only it eventually forgets about Klaus Löwitsch as the general tasked with tracking Eastwood down while Stefan Schnabel's bureaucrat harasses him.

It's a missed opportunity, narratively speaking, but some glorious filmmaking.

Actually, that description sums up Firefox overall. The espionage stuff is strong, but the flying's gorgeous.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Clint Eastwood; screenplay by Alex Lasker and Wendell Wellman, based on the novel by Craig Thomas; director of photography, Bruce Surtees; edited by Ron Spang and Ferris Webster; music by Maurice Jarre; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Clint Eastwood (Mitchell Gant), Freddie Jones (Kenneth Aubrey), David Huffman (Captain Buckholz), Warren Clarke (Pavel Upenskoy), Ronald Lacey (Semelovsky), Kenneth Colley (Colonel Kontarsky), Klaus Löwitsch (General Vladimirov), Nigel Hawthorne (Pyotr Baranovich) and Stefan Schnabel (First Secretary).


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Blow Dry (2001, Paddy Breathnach)

At ninety minutes and change, Blow Dry is too short. Given the complexities of the ground situation’s character relationships and then the character’s arcs throughout the picture, it could easily run two and a half hours.

The concept, which at first blush seems sensational but turns out not to be, has Natasha Richardson and Rachel Griffiths as a couple who own a salon in a small English town. Alan Rickman–as Richardson’s ex-husband–has a barber shop with their son, played by Josh Hartnett. Rickman doesn’t speak to the two women (whose business is next to his) and Hartnett’s got a dysfunctional relationship with both parents, not to mention Griffiths.

The beauty parts of Blow Dry come when these characters have to get together and sort it out. Sadly, it only happens once as a group but it’s an amazing scene. The little scenes when a couple come together are always good, but there’s never enough of it. The film’s MacGuffin is a hair cutting competition in the small town and a lot of time goes towards it. Too much, but those scenes are still pretty well done.

They just aren’t sublime.

Richardson and Griffiths are outstanding. Rickman’s good (though he has little to do). Hartnett occasionally loses his accent, but his earnestness holds the performance together. As the bad guy hair dresser, Bill Nighy is great. As Nighy’s daughter (and Hartnett’s love interest), Rachael Leigh Cook is awful.

It’s busy and loud but quite funny and genuinely sincere.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Paddy Breathnach; written by Simon Beaufoy; director of photography, Cian de Buitléar; edited by Tony Lawson; music by Patrick Doyle; production designer, Sophie Becher; produced by William Horberg, Ruth Jackson and David Rubin; released by Miramax Films.

Starring Natasha Richardson (Shelley), Alan Rickman (Phil), Rachel Griffiths (Sandra), Josh Hartnett (Brian), Bill Nighy (Ray Robertson), Hugh Bonneville (Louis), Rachael Leigh Cook (Christina Robertson), Warren Clarke (Tony) and Rosemary Harris (Daisy).


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Lassiter (1984, Robert Young)

Lassiter suffers from a definite lack of charisma. Not from leading man Tom Selleck, who looks a tad too tall to be a jewel thief, but from his leading ladies, Jane Seymour and Lauren Hutton. Seymour plays the girlfriend, which should give Lassiter an edge–if Seymour and Selleck had any chemistry together. Sadly, they don’t. Maybe it’s because Seymour’s two feet shorter than Selleck, maybe it’s because her performance is so tepid. As for Hutton… she’s laughable as a Nazi witch.

Her sidekick, Warren Clarke, however… he’s good.

All of Lassiter‘s supporting cast is outstanding–Joe Regalbuto, Ed Lauter, Bob Hoskins–so when Seymour’s off-screen and Hutton isn’t around, it’s a much better movie.

But Lassiter‘s other big problem–and one recasting can’t help–is the lack of story. Selleck’s jewel thief has to rob the German embassy in 1939 London. While the film beautifully creates the period (Peter Mullins’s production design is fantastic), there’s not a lot of story. David Taylor’s script tries to get a lot of kilometers out of Hoskins’s vicious thug of a cop, but it just doesn’t work. Hoskins is more of a danger than the Nazis and Lassiter‘s an attempt at an amiable thriller. There’s no place for noir elements whatsoever.

It’s hard to blame Young for that failing. His direction is never particularly impressive, but it’s never bad. It’s just a faulty project, but a mostly pleasant one.

Selleck’s good, Ken Thorne’s score is excellent. Lassiter‘s positively mediocre.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Young; written by David Taylor; director of photography, Gilbert Taylor; edited by Benjamin A. Weissman; music by Ken Thorne; production designer, Peter Mullins; produced by Albert S. Ruddy; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Tom Selleck (Nick Lassiter), Jane Seymour (Sara Wells), Lauren Hutton (Kari Von Fursten), Bob Hoskins (Inspector John Becker), Joe Regalbuto (Peter Breeze), Ed Lauter (Smoke), Warren Clarke (Max Hofer), Edward Peel (Sgt. Allyce), Paul Antrim (Askew), Christopher Malcolm (Quaid) and Barrie Houghton (Eddie Lee).


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