Combustible Celluloid
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With: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Bob Gunton, Frank Whaley, Howie Long, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Jack Thompson, Vyto Ruginis, Ousaun Elam, Shaun Toub, Casey Biggs, Jeffrey J. Stephen, Joey Box, Jon W. Kishi, Myke Schwartz, Jim Palmer, Vince Deadrick Sr., Charlie Brewer, Gary Epper, Mario Roberts, J.N. Roberts, Kurtwood Smith, Daniel von Bargen, Bruce E. Holman, Carmen Argenziano, James G. MacDonald, French Stewart, Jim Moyle, Chris Mulkey, Henry Murph, Tom Waddell, Rosemary Schoppman
Written by: Graham Yost
Directed by: John Woo
MPAA Rating: R for strong action violence and language
Running Time: 108
Date: 02/09/1996

Broken Arrow (1996)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I went into Broken Arrow just hoping it would be as good as John Woo's 1993 American debut, Hard Target, which was a slight, but stylish and enjoyable 'B' movie. It's not. The first thing I noticed is that Broken Arrow has very few of Woo's signatures. We get a hazy, slo-mo shot of Travolta emerging from behind a sand dune, and Christian Slater doing the double-gun, slo-mo shooting dive, as well as a few other shots, including one lifted from The Killer (1989), in which one character in a tight situation has a gun tucked into the back of his pants, and another character whips the gun out, falls to the ground and shoots the bad guy. Mostly though, it looks like some lesser director ripping off Woo's stuff. At least Hard Target, for all its silliness, definitely looks like a Woo film. Hard Target was based on a solid short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," by Richard Connell, while Broken Arrow was written by Graham Yost (Speed) and wanders all over the map. Yost uses dozens of cliches, lousy dialogue, and lots of explosions and helicopter crashes. Woo doesn't seem to have any idea how to treat this half-baked material. On the other hand, like Sandra Bullock's in Speed, Yost has included a great, strong female role for Samantha Mathis. Just when you think she's going to get kidnapped, she picks up a gun, jumps around on a moving train and kicks the hell out of some bad guys. She's wonderful. She has a face like a mischievous pixie; she's very cute, but believably tough. Unfortunately, she's the only really inspired thing in Broken Arrow.

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