It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a cheesy 80’s action film, hasn’t it? I mean, it’s at least been a couple of weeks. I think I may be going into withdrawal.
There. That’s better.
Men be naked. One fairly small photograph of male butts, so . . . possibly NSFW (depending on where you work, I suppose).
Fancy-dressing Lt. Raymond Tango (Sylvester Stallone) and hotheaded Lt. Gabriel Cash (Kurt Russell) are forced to work together when they’re framed for a crime they didn’t commit.
1. It is a time honored
cliche tradition to force the two most radically opposite detectives in the department to work with one another. That being said, said tradition works a lot better when the two detectives are actually opposites.
Tango is clearly supposed to be the more cautious, mild-mannered, bookish cop (as evidenced by his nice clothes, disappearing/reappearing glasses, and comments about Cash’s IQ), but the Roger Murtaughs of the world don’t generally disregard backup in favor of standing in the middle of some road, staring down a giant ass tanker truck, and shooting that fucker down with an itty bitty gun.
2. Actually, this movie would work a lot better without Sylvester Stallone at all.
Mind you, I’m not saying remake this movie and just call it Cash. I’m saying remake it and cast somebody else, anybody else. (Well, almost anybody else. Maybe not Keanu Reeves.)
I actually like Kurt Russell a lot — he lands at least 90% of the jokes, despite how many of them there are — but Stallone’s lucky to land 30%. It’s not all his fault, mind — the writers barely let the actors breathe before throwing in another one-liner — but his comedic timing just isn’t all that strong, and he’s seriously a weird choice for this role. You’d want someone who could be a little more fastidious, I think. Still a badass, yeah, but a badass who doesn’t like getting blood on his clothes. Someone with a good sense of humor and who looks good in Armani.
Yes. I like it.
3. This movie would also be a lot better if it had cooler bad guys. Instead, it has Veteran Villain James Hong, Perpetually Frothing at the Mouth Jack Palance, Some Annoying Pretend Cockney Underling, and Gul Dukat.
Admittedly, pairing James Hong and Gul Dukat (oh, all right, Marc Alaimo) together should be cool, but the movie strands them with absolutely nothing to do. Meanwhile, Jack Palance is cuh-raaaazy and mostly just comes up with ridiculous plans that make no sense and otherwise plays around with his mice. (Not a euphemism.)
And when you need a second banana in the 80’s, seriously, just cast Gary Busey and get it over with.
Because there is no beating Mr. Joshua. Period.
4. I’m ragging on this movie a lot — because it’s easy — but it’s actually a decently enjoyable buddy cop movie, if you’re into buddy cop movies. It’s just that it could also be a lot better, and I’m kind of passionate about the idea that popular movies, even silly movies, can also be good movies. I like so-bad-it’s-good nonsense, clearly, but Tango & Cash isn’t actually that kind of film, or shouldn’t be. It’s really an okay action movie that could be an awesome action movie — with better acting, writing, and for Christ’s sake, editing.
5. Okay, so there’s a girl in this movie, and her name’s Teri Hatcher.
Now, as the Girl, Teri Hatcher is clearly going to get abducted and threatened by the bad guys at some point. I mean, that’s not a spoiler. We all know it’s going to happen. But while we know it, we still need to see it happen. You can’t just have Tango and Cash bust into the Evil Lair, take down a bunch of henchmen, and see the Big Bad holding a knife to the Girl’s throat when, last time we saw the Girl, she was perfectly safe and sound at home.
That, my friends, is what we call a serious editing fail.
6. Teri Hatcher is also specifically called a dancer throughout the movie, although she’s pretty clearly a stripper. Not a knock to strippers — I’m just saying, I think this movie wants her to be both the virtuous heroine and the spunky rebel stripper all at the same time, and that’s difficult even when you don’t cast Teri Hatcher, who alternates between I-have-Attitude-with-a-capital-A voice and I’m-so-innocent-I’m-slightly-brain-damaged voice.
7. And the sibling dynamic between her and Sylvester Stallone? Also kind of weird. I’m not entirely sure if it’s a writing thing or an acting thing, but . . . something’s off. It’s not just romantic leads who should have spark, after all. Siblings should have a certain type of chemistry too. Stallone and Hatcher? They don’t have it. I don’t buy them as brother and sister for one minute, no matter how protective Tango supposedly is.
8. On the upside, here are some quotes that I did enjoy:
Tango: “And who are you?”
Perret: “Just think of me as someone who doesn’t like you very much.”
Cash: “He’s a little upset. He misses his wardrobe.”
Tango: “I do miss my wardrobe.”
Tango: “If I don’t make it, I want you to know . . . you’re the best cop I ever worked with.”
Cash: “There’s something I want you to know too. If you don’t make it . . . I am going to date your sister.”
Cash: “Mr. Tango has spoken eloquently, and I wish I could be as forgiving, but I can’t cause this whole thing . . . fucking sucks!”
9. Also for things I enjoyed:
9A. Tango and Cash’s Naked Walk.
Cause why not?
9B. Awesome gun boots. I should get these for anytime I have to walk in the dark by myself.
9C. Killing a bad guy by shoving a grenade down his pants. Because I’m mean like that.
10. On the other hand, a few more things that don’t work for various reasons.
10A. Kurt Russell in drag. Actually, I don’t find the humor particularly objectionable — it’s just bad drag.
Russell has extremely pretty blue eyes, but he does not make a very pretty woman. If you’re going to use the “guy has to dress up as a woman to get out of a hairy situation” trope, I don’t know, I think you should cast a guy that could actually pass as a woman with the right amount of makeup. It’s just a thought.
10B. Any of Jack Palance’s metaphors or analogies. For instance, about Tango: “He waltzes in and takes all my drugs, and then tangoes back out again.” I get it, the tango is a dance — the guy probably gets a lot of bad jokes about his name. Got it. But you just don’t waltz in and tango out — that’s just bad writing. If you have to use multiple dance puns, you should just go ahead and throw them all out there. “He waltzes in, cha-chas his way past the cameras, electric slides by the booby traps, ballet leaps to the drugs, tangoes with my men, and moonwalks right out of there.”
Also, rats in a maze is really not analogous to men trapped in a cage with no way out. Why? Because there is a way out of a maze. (I’m not saying it’s easy, but there is still an exit. Also, I’m assuming not a lot of cheese in prison, though I guess I don’t know that for sure. I’ve never been to prison.)
(And yes, I’m just being a shit about this because I can. Seriously, Jack Palance’s character annoyed the hell out of me in this movie. Definitely on the short list for Least Threatening Villains Ever.)
10C. Almost everything that happened in the prison. Cause, again, I’ve never been to jail — what do I know about maximum security, right? But my gut instincts are still telling me that the guards don’t just let the prisoners randomly set parts of the place on fire.
And no matter how corrupt things are, I simply don’t believe Jack Palance could pay to sneak into the prison, kidnap Tango and Cash from their cells, and release about fifty of the other prisoners for a night to beat the shit out of T & C– and not even just a good old fashioned ass kicking, either. Elaborate electrocution is involved. I mean, seriously. What kind of fucked up plan is this? Can’t you just hire someone to shank the guys you want dead, like everyone else?
And even if you have to concoct some kind of super elaborate death for your enemies — why the fuck are you there? I cannot say this enough, Evil Criminal Overlords. This is what you have minions for!
10D. High-fives, especially when you freeze-frame on them. This is unacceptable.
10E. Tango: “Rambo is a pussy.”
No. Just no.
I have an inexplicable fondness for buddy cop movies, but this could be a lot better. And the only reason it works at all is because Kurt Russell works it.
Kurt Russell, obviously.
CHARACTER WHO MOST DESERVES TO GET SLAPPED WITH A BIG, DEAD, SMELLY FISH:
Perret (Jack Palance)
There’s really no need to discredit your good guys before you kill them. Sure, they might become martyrs. But glorified, dead martyrs are still easier to deal with than living super cops, especially when all of your plans to destroy them suck so very hard.