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Lightning Jack Review

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Lightning Jack Kane likes to think of himself as the meanest cowboy in the Wild West, sadly no-one else does. So to rectify his reputation he recruits a sidekick, mute cowboy Ben Doyle (Gooding Jr.) and the two perform various stunts across the West.

★★★★

Hitching a ride on the current cowboy bandwagon Paul Hogan is Lightning Jack Kane, allegedly the meanest, fastest gun in the West. Unfortunately this reputation is all in Jack's mind and he can't seem to get his picture on a wanted poster much less a price on his head. After failing to carry out a bank robbery on his own — with no lookout, the customers keep coming through the door — Jack finds himself a partner in the shape of the mute Ben Doyle (Gooding Jr.) and the duo spend the rest of the film trying to improve their outlaw image.

Writing one half of the film's double act as a mute was an adventurous move which would have paid off had Hogan's script been snappier. But with Ben unable to provide quick-witted retorts in the best buddy movie tradition, the majority of Jack's lines fall flat. And while Gooding's facial contortions make his a fairly amusing performance to watch, their relationship means Hogan gets centre stage, grabbing the best (and indeed the only) lines for himself.

The story also suffers from a distinct lack of excitement: when Jack and Ben are pursued by Comanche, the chase ends with the Indians getting bored and giving up, rather than with any thrilling heroics. It's a shame too that D'Angelo has to put up with a rather lame role as Jack's saloon sweetheart, always ready with a soothing bedside manner. After the abysmal Almost An Angel, Hogan clearly needed a boost. Unfortunately this isn't it. Perhaps next time he should let someone else write the script.

Paul Hogan had a successful turn as Crocodile Dundee but it appears that was a one hit wonder as he has appeared in flop after flop ever since and that includes Crocodile Dundee II and III. Gooding Jr. gives impressive support as a mute but sadly gets too few of the jokes.