Broken Arrow (1996)

The first Big Action Movie of the year opens, appropriately enough,
in a boxing ring.  In this corner is John Travolta, a test-pilot-
gone-bad who's stealing nukes and demanding ransom.  His challenger
is Christian Slater, his copilot and supposed friend.  Their play-
pen is the Utah Canyonlands, where Travolta has ditched their B-3
Stealth bomber and is planning Bad Things if Uncle Sam doesn't pay.
Assisting Mr. Slater is his PUMP UP THE VOLUME costar Samantha
Mathis as a feisty Park Ranger.  Together, they chase the Comeback
Kid via plane, train, boat, moat, and Humvie, as only SPEED scribe
Graham Yost could imagine.

Behind the lens is legendary action director John Woo (HARD BOILED,
HARD TARGET), who seems a mere shadow of his usual self.  Sure, he
brings a unique rhythm to an already too-familiar formula, but his
action sequences lack the fluid finesse that Woo is world-renowned
for.  No bone breaking ballet here, just the occasional over-the-
top thrill.  Such as Mathis and Slater evading a crashing helicop-
ter's tail rotor.  Or the film's final twenty minutes, set aboard a
hijacked freight train.

All told, BROKEN ARROW is entertaining enough.  The script is
lively, Travolta is a blast as a badass, and John Woo is effective
enough, even at quarter-speed.  Unfortunately, there's not much
that *anyone* can do with the more, uh, erroneous casting choices.
Christian Slater is hardly larger-than-life, but some viewers will
probably accept him as an action hero.  Samantha Mathis, however,
is just plain awful.  What's she doing here?  The inclusion of,
say, Travolta's GET SHORTY costar Delroy Lindo we can understand.
Even former NFL player Howie Long is an acceptable addition.  But
looks-all-of-twenty-years-old Frank Whaley as a Pentagon "suit?"
Maybe the casting director was thinking John *Hughes*.  (Rated
"R"/108 min.)

Grade: C+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: February 18. 1996

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