Kit Latura is a disgraced badass ready to make everyone regret doubting him. When the Holland Tunnel collapses it’s up to him to save the remaining survivors. He totes goes in there and leads them like the leader that he is. Can he save them all (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Daylight.
How?! Act I: Our main players all converge on the Holland Tunnel, where a truck filled with toxic waste (obviously) explodes when a car filled with highly flammable jewel thieves crashes into it. In an absolutely wild coincidence the former head of the EMS, Kit Latura, is driving a cab just outside the tunnel. He volunteers to head in on a rescue mission to save them all with his big muscles. Meanwhile we are introduced to the only survivors in the tunnel… which are honestly mostly criminals and cheats. Act II: Sly enters the tunnel ready to rock-and-roll. Unfortunately he enters through the ventilation system that is only a one-way entrance. Realizing that he needs to strengthen their position he decides to collapse part of the tunnel with explosives. Who does he ask for help? The pretty playwright, Maddy, of course. The biggest question here is whether Maddy is actually his love interest. She is a beautiful thirty-something, he looks like he’s been carved from an old tree. I was getting some serious father-daughter vibes, but not sure that’s what they were going for. Anyway, he blows the tunnel, but soon realizes that their position is even more vulnerable when water starts to flood and they hear the rescue workers trying to break into the tunnel (which would kill them). Attempting to find a way out, Kit leads the group to long unused areas of the tunnel (with only minimal fatalities). Finding a way out he forces the group to go to safety, while him and Maddy are stranded in the tunnel. Act III: We end with Kit and Maddy deciding that they have to try everything to survive. They decide to use the remaining explosives to blow out the tunnel and have the pressure hopefully push them to the surface of the river. This, of course, works because it’s a movie. Kit and Maddy still don’t kiss because everyone probably realized it would be weird. THE END.
Why?! Weirdly, atonement. The backstory for Kit is that he’s been disgraced and forced to become a taxi driver because he got rescue workers killed while trying to save people. You get the sense that by voluntarily going back in he is trying to save those lives to make up for his perceived failure. Perhaps he even would have sacrificed himself for this atonement if Maddy hadn’t been there to force him to take one last drastic action. As for the main antagonist, The Tunnel, well it just wants to be a tunnel. Usually that’s not too much to ask.
Who?! For the first time ever I think I’m going to call a Nepotism Alert! Sage Stallone, Sly’s son, actually has a fairly prominent role as Vincent, one of the juvenile delinquents. Much like Kevin Costner’s daughter in The Postman I actually think he was pretty good though. I really think if I didn’t know he was Sly’s son then I would have just been like “he’s actually an OK actor.”
What?! I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but there is a very special product placement associated with this film. It’s Sly Stallone’s Panerai watch that he wears and subsequently became associated with a number of action stars. They are big and bulky and designed for use in submarines, but Sly Stallone took one look at it in Italy and, “immediately knew it had star power.” That’s real. That’s a quote. He thought the watch was good character development and insisted his character wear one. I mean… that’s just good writing.
Where?! Very very very good NYC film. The Holland Tunnel itself is more or less a role in the film. We even get some history lessons about the construction of the tunnel and very intricate geography of exactly how it’s laid out. A all the way.
When?! I went back through it and confirmed that indeed they don’t make specific mention of when this takes place. We see some spotty snow on the ground and one character is seen contemplating whether to buy a Super Bowl ad for his company, so it’s clearly winter before the big game. I also think post-Christmas because otherwise we’d probably have a character be like “this is the worst Christmas ever,” or something. So January? D+ I think… I have to look back on my grading rubric.
This film really harkened back to an older time in action films. It felt very Towering Inferno or Poseidon Adventure. There isn’t some major terrorist plot or millions of dollars at stake. Just a few survivors of a major disaster hoping to get saved by the ultimate badass with a heart of gold. Despite being a major film it felt very small, and that was both good and bad. It was good in that the plot didn’t seem contrived and there wasn’t some silly MacGuffin to laugh at, but also bad because at times it almost seemed meandering. The survivor’s plight in the tunnel seemed so hopeless that they were just screaming “we’re going to die! What are we going to do?!” and Sly would kinda just shrug and wait it out. It’s almost like they were writing the film as they were making it… and Sly seriously didn’t know what they were going to do. Other than obviously he shouldn’t panic because he forced a rewrite where his character would survive. Overall it’s an entertaining film, but just fine otherwise. As for Roller Blade Seven, I was surprised by the coherency. It wasn’t as totally off-the-rails as I expected given the IMDb score. It did feel like there was a vision there… at least from a filmmaking perspective and not necessarily from a storytelling perspective. Like there were some Crank-type roller blade handheld camera stuff going on and the random cuts and repeats of scenes that people make fun of did seem purposeful. Like I think he was trying to say something about time and memory as part of the Zen Filmmaking idea that he espouses. So, dare I say it, I think Roller Blade Seven is maybe underrated? Is that right? That can’t be right… Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I swear to God I’ve seen this movie before … or at least I’ve seen the ending of this film a few dozen times on TNT. Either way, let’s get into it!
P’s View on the Preview – Last year, after finding Skyscraper absolutely insufferable, I watched Towering Inferno a few days afterwards. Disaster films from various decades are interesting, and the 90s was mostly aliens, and comets, and real large scale stuff. This was pleasantly small scale. So I was excited to see just how it compared to the various other disaster films I’ve seen in my life. What was I expecting? I was expecting a terrible acting performance from Stallone, melodrama, and for this ragtag team of misfits to go out there and beat the Holland Tunnels, yeah! The sports analogy works.
The Good – This is bar none one of the best plane movies I’ve ever watched, breezes by with no gore or nudity to embarrass you in front of nosey neighbors. Ideal. The set is incredibly impressive, and the tension is ratcheted up to 11 because they actually give a decently plausible series of minor disasters for Stallone to individually tackle to save everyone. The film was decently paced because of this. This is a very old school film, with the various characters all getting their little introduction, and you learn about them, and care for them, and in the end you’re like: “You did good kid” and you wink at Stallone, who gives you a thumbs up and everything and it is awesome, you know?
The Bad – The acting was quite bad top to bottom. This is one year prior to Stallone earning a bit of redemption for Cop Land, and you kind of see the humble, sheepish, reluctant hero in the making here as well. Almost like he was insisting that the brash 80s action hero brand was ovah baby and had already started to twist it back around … I think it is merely embarrassing here as it is clear Stallone is the only competent person in the movie and his fake humility probably got a bunch of people killed. Anyways, the storyline of the tunnel and the gigantic coincidences that put Stallone in the position to be this reluctant hero are a bit too much such that it sinks the first act. The second act is weighed down by the realization that most of the people in the tunnel are garbage people and you kind of don’t care if they live or die. And the third act is an implausible ‘splosion … when you put it that way this film really doesn’t have much going for it. Whatever it is entertaining as hell I think.
The BMT – For the set piece alone I would give it to it. As I said, I’ve watched a bunch of disaster films in my life and this lies closer to the Poseidon Adventure area. The reluctant hero saves a small group of people, some of whom die one by one (mostly the nice ones), etc. They naturally pulled the punch and had Stallone live. This is in stark contrast to the real old school flicks like Towering Inferno or Avalanche which both reveled in showing you the various ways all of the good and bad people could die (god is dead, amirite?). And also contrasts with Skyscraper is on the other end with The Rock deploying death to only those he deems the baddies with tactical efficiency leaving every good person alive and well. This is a nice (and kind of rare I think) 90s disaster film that operates on the small scale. Plus Stallone, so like … yeah, its BMT. Did it meet my expectations? Only partially. As I said the film was entertaining as hell so that makes it tough to really crap on. But also they kill off too many of the good guys on Team Stallone for my liking. The score was like what? Team Stallone 9, Holland Tunnels 4 or something? It was a lot closer than you like to see I think.
Roast-radamus – I wish there was something for the Matthew Lillard Most Sidekick-est Character award or something for Amy Brenneman, but alas. I do like the very specific Holland Tunnel as a Setting as a Character (Where?). Other than that … there isn’t much of a twist unless you could the deus ex blow-out-ea to save Stallone and Brenneman. So that really is it. I don’t think it gets a Good, Bad, or BMT nod.
StreetCreditReport.com – Amazingly it juuuuust narrowly gets onto this disaster film list by Newsweek tied for 49th out of 50. It gets a pretty decent 23rd best Stallone film list from Men’s Health. Otherwise it could get what? Worst film set in a tunnel I think for sure. I could definitely be on a list of worst 90s disaster films, although I think it might get beaten out by a few of the crazier late 90s ones (Godzilla comes to mind), and also some real crap ones (Firestorm comes to mind). Even Volcano … whatever, it would get top ten for sure.
Bring a Friend Analysis – As the first installment of the Sibling Rivalry Bring a Friend we chose Roller Blade Seven. I’m not actually sure what put this film on my radar besides that fact that it stars both Frank Stallone and Joe Estevez and thus seemed to have super sibling powers of some kind. Written and directed by Donald G. Jackson and co-written with Scott Shaw (who both also starred in the film), it comes across as part micro-budget 80s sci-fi dystopian crazy film, and part art film. Using a style he dubs zen filmmaking (see above), Jackson creates a dream-like atmosphere by replaying some clips over and over, especially during fight scenes. Starring C/Z-list actors, plus a few famous cult film stars, it comes across a lot like what I imagine Manos Hands of Fate wanted to be. While Manos was made on a bet, the intention was to partially buck the Hollywood system and show that a man with a plan and a camera could make a movie. Unlike Manos Jackson actually succeeded in breaking into Hollywood and cultivates a following with his most successful venture Hell Comes to Frogtown. It is hard to even describe what I think of this film. I think it is terribly made, terribly acted, nonsensical, and aggravating. But at the same time I find something very alluring about zen filmmaking. Something about this film makes me think I’ll watch more Donald G. Jackson in my life, and something about the film tells me that is necessary to really understand the weirdness that was 80s/90s off-Hollywood productions. As a friend I give it an A for being thought provoking. But I have to say, I’m glad we didn’t watch Rollergator this week, as that would have been too much Donald G. Jackson too quickly.
You Just Got Schooled – Without a logical choice for learning in Daylight, I decided to watch this documentary about The Roller Blade Seven (and its sequel). You can get the gist of this bizarre documentary and Zen Filmmaking as a whole in the first five minutes, it is pretty much explained in the opening crawl and the whole thing is boring and awful. Some other interesting bits: The film was entirely filmed at Golden Hour, which means it took a lot longer to finish that I would have thought at first glance. The roller cam is pretty funny and works well for the film as a whole. In a different universe these guys are genuinely funny guys making an interesting art film, but with the early-90s Hollywood quality it is just … a bit sad? The dog collar, the outfits they are wearing, the fake reporters, the chosen location. The experience of watching this “film” is very much like the tuxedo scene in Step Brothers: “Oh I get it, it’s ironic, that’s funny, that’s cool, I’m into it, let’s do this … [watches the filmmaking documentary] Oh … nope, now this all seems pretty fucked up to be honest.” … I think it now gets a B as a friend.
Phew, what a combo! Already loving this cycle. Cheerios,