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Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, Deborah Kara Unger, Lucy Liu, David Paymer, James Coburn


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Sometimes, you just like to watch a badass do his thing.

Good ol' Mel Gibson is Porter, a guy who got screwed over and robbed by his friend Val (Gregg Henry). All he wants is to kill him and get his money back. The hunt gets him mixed up in bigger messes that he has to kill his way out of. That's the whole story. Somehow, it's also a whole lot of fun.

Chock full of gunplay, explosions and "look-how-cool-Mel-is" shots, it definitely doesn't play to the intellectual crowd. As usual, though, I can adjust the 'good and heady movie/cool and fun movie' switch in my head and enjoy it anyway.

Mel's definitely not a good guy, but he's the best of the worst. He's obsessive, violent, mean, abrasive and unpleasant, but he's fun to watch as he hunts down even more despicable characters. Val is a sadistic weasel who specializes in brutalizing women. Carter (William Devane) is Val's manipulative boss with a 'creepy smile' habit. Stegman (David Paymer) is just a weasel. Detectives Hicks (Bill Duke) and Leary (Jack Conley) are crooked cops that decide to force Porter to hand over his money once he gets it just to mess with him. Bronson (Kris Kristofferson) is the head of The Outfit - Val's crime syndicate - and he's got no problems with torturing people to ridiculous extremes. Throw in violent uberhooker Pearl (Lucy Alexis Liu) and her vicious gang out to make Porter pay for stealing their money in the first place, and you've got a zany mess of situations for Our Man Mel to wade through.

The bad guy that's the most fun is Fairfax (James Coburn). He'd rather not hurt anybody and he's seems like a pleasant guy, save for his aggressive defense of his expensive luggage and other such items. Coburn's always a great addition to any cast, and he's actually one of the best characters in the film.

The twists the story takes are cool and never exactly what you expect, and that's what keeps us interested. Even though you're damn sure Mel's gonna end up all right in the end, there's always that possibility that he's so attached to his vendetta that something's gonna mess up somewhere for him - this AIN'T a Lethal Weapon movie, so there's the off chance that he MIGHT die or lose an arm or something. Of course, the end leaves the sequel door wide open.

As I said, though, sometimes it's fun just to watch a badass guy walk around smoking cigarettes to cool music and knowing the jerks are gonna get theirs and he's gonna be there to hand it to 'em. If the script's amusing enough, I'm more than willing to roll with it. A fun time will be had by all.

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