Directed by: Harley Cokliss
Category: Badass Cinema
Where the hell would the world be right now if we didn't have Burt fucking Reynolds!?
I'm sorry, I just had to get that off my chest before I went any further because while in reality he's given us some incredibly lame and just plain bad films where the good to bad ratio in his filmography doesn't even go near 50/50 with a majority of his films just plain sucking, every once in a while we get something like Malone or Stick that reminds us that he was in fact a badass at one time.
One could easily argue that good ol' Burt was simply giving a half ass, uninspired or just plain lazy performance in Malone, and for the most part they would be right. But I also think that behind all that "I just couldn't give a shit" vibe from his performance, I think he was also simply just trying to play cool, though it's painstakingly obvious that was not what transpired on film. But I gotta give the guy credit, though he's about 20 pounds heavier, sporting a ridiculous toupee and looking a lot older than he did in Stick, which was just 2 years earlier, he's still such a badass in this and God love him for that.
Burt Reynolds plays Malone, a washed out CIA hitman who's grown tired of the job and decides to leave the agency and travel the country. When his car breaks down in a secluded rundown little town out in the country, he's witness to a town controlled by fear and intimidation at the hands of land developer and all around bad guy Charles Delaney (Cliff Robertson). Delaney is intent on buying up every square inch of that town and if a landowner says no, he simply unleashes a handful of thugs and hitmen at his disposal to solve the problem. So when Delaney and company try persuading one of the last holdouts in the town, he didn't count on Malone, who just so happens to be staying at that house while his car is being fixed and ultimately becomes friends with the family there.
Malone is such a great fucking movie, and not always for the right reasons. For starters, Reynolds looks like he just couldn't give a shit in here. He rarely utters a word, instead choosing to grimace his answers. And he just looks so much older and out of shape than he did in Stick, and that was just 2 years ago! I just couldn't believe it! And don't get me started on how many times the name Malone is uttered in this film, it's ridiculous. It's like the filmmakers "never" want you to forget the name of the film or the character. When you're not throwing your face in your palm at some of the more prominent and laughable aspects of the film, the script gives you plenty of truly bad dialogue to laugh out loud at. Like:
Mechanics daughter: What's your name?
Mechanics daughter: Got a last name?
Malone: Why are you here Jamie?
Jamie (Lauren Hutton): I came to kill you.
Malone: I know. If you came to screw me to death, I'd die a happy man.
Dear lord. But there are plenty of pluses to be found here. Though Burt looks tired and uninterested, he can still kick some serious ass and gets plenty of opportunities to prove just how badass he really is. And director Harley Cokeliss (Black Moon Rising) does make the film look nice, even though it does venture into "Made for TV" territory from time to time. But when the action kicks in, although all too brief for the most part, its bloody, violent and right up my alley. In fact, it looks so awesome when there is a brief moment of action or violence that you just want so much more of it. And that would be one of my biggest gripes. That while each action sequence or fight scene is very well executed, there so damn short and you feel kinda cheated. But we all know there's going to be the big showdown at the end between Malone and the evil land developer Delaney. And that's really all Malone is. One big long setup for the inevitable showdown between Malone and the villain.
Though the production is obviously very low budget, the cast they've assembled here is pretty impressive considering. Besides Burt, you've got Cliff Robertson as the greedy land developer who also apparently has another agenda of ruling the country as a back country survivalist who's slowly growing an army of dedicated survivalists. Then there's Lauren Hutton as Jamie, Malone's partner in the CIA and the only person he can trust, even though she's been recruited to hunt Malone down and kill him. And you've also got a really nice cast of character actors to flesh out the story. All in all, a really solid cast overall.
Taking into account how many films Burt Reynolds has starred in and how many of them are just simply bad, Malone easily ranks as one if his best films. Yup, that's a bold statement and I mean every word of it. Yea, he looks bored and tired here, but this isn't the same Burt from film to film. I mean, look at him in Switching Channels released the following year costarring Christopher Reeve and Kathleene Turner. I don't know why that film gets so dumped on. I actually thought it was pretty hilarious and quite enjoy it. But in that film, Burt looks more alive and inspired than I've seen him in almost an entire decade up to that point. Then check him out in Striptease in '96 and his award winning performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights in '97. So I don't know, maybe it's just stuff he's got going on in his personal life at the time or the director he's working with.
As the cover image implies, Malone kicks some serious ass in this and it's definitely worth checking out. Apparently, it was available on Netflix Instant about a year ago, and in Widescreen too, but as of this posting it is not and even the M.O.D. DVD is out of print and embarrassingly pricey for a Full Frame aspect ratio with no bonus features. I saw it on VHS, which looks surprisingly good since a majority of the film takes place during the day, giving the film a much sharper image. If you've never had a chance to see this film before, don't go in with any high expectations and just have have fun with it. You'll be glad you did. Classic Burt Reynolds stuff here all the way.