Broken Arrow Review

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When stealth bomber pilot Vic Deakins reveals his dark side stealing two nuclear missiles (or “Broken Arrows”) for an elaborate slice of extortion , it is up to his co-pilot Riley Hale and local park ranger Terry Carmichael, to track him down on foot and


The first sign that John Woo’s transfer from his Hong Kong haunts was not going to be quite as exalted as hoped for, this crackpot thriller features John Travolta exaggerating every gesture and smirk, like John Wayne jacked on amphetamines, and a loose collection of cranked-up action scenes, but scant else. There is something flabby and wasteful about this thriller looking to Western motifs for its spin, the action sprawling across an arid piece of Utah scrub where the despicable “Deak” has stashed his stolen nukes.

We start with the partners, Deak and Riley, a father-son, teacher-pupil, bully-victim concoction represented by the fact they commence proceedings by pummelling each other in a boxing ring. Just for giggles really. It’s swiftly apparent Deak is a win-at-all-costs kinda guy, Hale may have a decent core. That’s it for characterisation, now just stand back as Travolta hits full throttle and Woo goes to his store cupboard of iconic imagery — twin revolvers, ticking bombs, bumpy car chases, all pumped slightly higher, slightly longer.

The reason for the desert setting, and it supplies a nifty subterranean nuclear explosion throbbing a ripple across the surface scenery, is that is where Deak has ditched their jet to nab the missiles to commence his complicated plan for extorting money out of the government or he’ll light the blue touch paper. There’s some comedy mined here, Woo never allows us to take his giddy actioners very seriously. Travolta is certainly in on the joke, he pretty much is the joke, but no one seems to have told Christian Slater who is horribly earnest and never sits right in the hero mould. The film stops dead whenever he wanders in.

Of course, it throttles along, gathering enough momentum to carry you to next overblown action sequence, but no matter how high wire the stunts, or brash and cavalier the acting, it never escapes the feel of an over-budgeted B-movie drunk on its own pointless excesses.

It's entertaining in a laughable, six-pack kind of way, acceptable if you're in the mood, slightly irritating if you're not.