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by Jack Sommersby

"Low-Grade, Lousy Actioner"
1 stars

Came and went from theatres in a heartbeat, it provides zero entertainment value and oodles of unintentional laughs.

The abominable action picture Bulletproof is a depressing experience for several reasons, particularly the lackluster work of director Steve Carver and star Gary Busey. After all, Carver's responsible for two of the better Chuck Norris movies, An Eye for an Eye and Lone Wolf McQuade; and in the extraordinary Lethal Weapon from the year before, an atypically-cast Busey was wonderfully menacing as Mel Gibson's chief adversary. This time around Busey's playing the hero, Los Angeles Lt. Frank McBain, nicknamed "Bulletproof" because of the numerous gunshots he's survived (he keeps the bullets in a jar at home next to the shaving cream); and, yes, he's one of those cops who habitually chucks that 'ol standard-police-procedure in favor of taking dangerous chances on the job (rather than waiting for a warrant to be issued and back-up to arrive at the scene, he goes right ahead and unleashes full-blown pandemonium on the bad guys). We know we're in for the long haul when the opening action sequence, consisting of McBain and his partner shooting it out with some arms smugglers in a warehouse and then chasing down their ice-cream truck for all of missile launchers and grenades, is poorly staged and manages to elicit all the excitement of a tax seminar. And things only get worse. Much worse. McBain is ex-military and was known as "Bulletproof" back then, too, and he's blackmailed by his former superiors (something to do with his having accidentally killed a fellow cohort during a gunfight with a Russian general, which we see in a flashback) into being taken off the inactive list and parachuted into a hostile northern Mexico territory to commandeer the U.S's high-tech MBT-90 Thunderblast, an all-terrain missile-attack vehicle that's been hijacked by some communist guerillas aiming to sell it to the Russians. McBain used to be romantically involved with Captain Devon Shepard (To Live and Die in L.A.'s Darlanne Fluegel), who's been taken hostage along with Special Operations Military Advisor O'Rourke (The Wild Bunch's L.Q. Jones). Apparently the military isn't much for conspicuity, for McBain arrives south of the border in everyday street clothes and sneakers, and succeeds in locating the bad guys with such ease it's a wonder there's so much as a single individual left in the L.A. missing-persons file. From here we get a series of mind-numbingly dull talking-heads scenes interrupted by the occasional malodorous gunfire exchange, and we're more often than not bored to tears when we're not shaking our heads at the ultra-idiotic plotting.

The horrific screenplay was co-written by T.L. Lankford, he with the schlock-fest Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers on his illustrious resume, and the installing of clunky humor into the proceedings only accentuates the material's dead-on-arrival atrociousness. Unlike in his previous efforts, Carver is all-thumbs at juggling the movie's various tones, with McBain spouting an array of inane one-liners that makes it all but impossible to have something of a stake in either the story or the protagonist. (The only decent line is spoken by someone else: when first entering this Mexican desert wasteland, an American solider remarks, "God must have made this country on His lunch hour.") It also doesn't help that Busey plays things too broadly. Never once lending McBain the necessary rootedness so the audience can seriously respond to him, Busey, who gave one of the great unsung supporting performances as Dustin Hoffman's fundamentally weak crime partner in Straight Time (the way his character begged Hoffman's career criminal not to kill him after botching a simple getaway assignment was painful to watch), acts all over the place, apparently relying on a dynamic charisma he just doesn't possess. It's a phony, phoned-in portrait direly lacking in imagination and control. Fluegel at least makes an effort and has a fair amount of forcefulness, but as the villains Henry Silva and William Smith are vague and uninteresting. (Silva's been playing bad guys for decades, from The Manchurian Candidate to Sharky's Machine, and he's finally reached that point where he's drawing from an empty bag of tricks.) But Carver is the one responsible for staging and shaping the material, and from looking at his work here it's hard to believe he'd qualify for directing so much as Florida dinner theatre. In a particularly embarrassing scene, a captured McBain has been tied to a huge wooden wheel but is saved by the spunky Shepard who explodes a grenade thereby, thus dislodging the wheel from its place and causing it to roll downhill at a mere forty-five degree angle at so swift a speed the baddies can't keep up with it, and McBain, able to miraculously wrangle free from the ropes with no assistance, is freed up to participate in the final confrontation, which actually pales in comparison to the EM-50/urban-assault-vehicle-involved finale in the military comedy Stripes. Nothing in Bulletproof works. It's one of those movies so blatantly bad it's hard to believe the studio had an executive on duty during production checking over the dailies and reporting back that all was fine. It may be many things, but audience-proof certainly isn't one of them.

Like the bubonic plague, it's to be steered clear of.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25432&reviewer=327
originally posted: 07/06/13 08:30:58
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User Comments

12/28/17 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
12/25/17 trust me. no, REALLY "I'm goin' to Disneyland!" 4 stars
7/10/13 Charles Kill Sandler certainly needed more bromance movies...and not so many ...others he's made. 3 stars
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  13-May-1988 (R)



Directed by
  Steve Carver

Written by
  T.L. Lankford
  B.J. Goldman

  Gary Busey
  Darlanne Fluegel
  Henry Silva
  L.Q. Jones
  R.G. Armstrong

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