Monday, July 11, 2016
Shane Black has proved, over the course of a few decades, that once a formula works, it can be used repeatedly and that people don't care much as long as you're only ripping yourself off. Turns out languishing in Hollywood gives you plenty of material about Hollywood, and what didn't get used in Last Action Hero can now be used here. Two mismatched characters forced into what essentially amounts to a marriage, solving a mystery with a powerful Aryan is at the top. Add some murders, dimwitted heavies, parties with topless women, a car ramming into a lake or a house, some saxophone, and set it around Christmastime. Repeat every four years.
There is a difference this time around: Black includes himself in the equation. The additional layer of acknowledging storytelling limitations and constant self-deprecation, along with Robert Downey Jr at the boost phase of a meteoric comeback, breathes new life into what otherwise would have been serviceable action-noir. The plot is so greased and moves so fast that it becomes unpredictable, even skipping over plot holes a la Wages of Fear (how did the body arrive in Harry's bathroom so quickly?) and dialogue charming enough so that it doesn't really matter. Gags-Per-Minute reaches new power levels and a spaced-out main character gradually learns over the course of the film that murder solves most problems. It is immensely satisfying.