Johnny Handsome Review

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John Sedley, aka Johnny Handsome (Rourke), is a facially deformed heist-merchant who is double-crossed and ends up in jail. There, a doctor fixes his face and sends him happily on his way down the path to an elaborate and gruesome vengeance.


Yet another waste of Walter Hill's razor-sharp action movie skills, Johnny Handsome is one part The Elephant Man, two parts Point Blank. Rourke, with a ton of gloopy latex on his face, is the title character, a congenitally malformed New Orleans criminal with a genius for planning meticulous heists. While knocking over a numismatics store, however, he's double-crossed by Sunny (Barkin) and her partner. Johnny's best pal is shot and he himself is stabbed in prison where an unbelievably philanthropic doctor (Whitaker) offers to remake his face. He is then unbelievably let out of prison, almost believably falls in love with McGovern and wholly unbelievably sets in motion an elaborately stupid plan of revenge.

Despite this implausible screenplay, there are a number of good things in Johnny Handsome. Rourke is remarkably good as the reformed freak and Hill stages the heists and shoot-outs with all his usual flair.

New Orleans looks as photogenic as ever but ultimately Johnny Handsome never quite leapfrogs over its fundamental cracks.