Saturday 13 January 2024

Movie Review: Streets Of Fire (1984)

Genre: Action Musical  
Director: Walter Hill  
Starring: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Willem Dafoe, Amy Madigan  
Running Time: 93 minutes  

Synopsis: Rock star Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) returns to her childhood neighbourhood for a concert promoted by her rich partner Billy Fish (Rick Moranis). Mid-performance, Ellen is abducted off the stage by Raven (Willem Dafoe), a thuggish motorcycle gang leader. Local girl Riva (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) appeals to her brother (and Ellen's former lover) Tom Cody (Michael Paré) for help, and he teams up with Billy and ex-soldier McCoy (Amy Madigan) to mount a rescue.

What Works Well: Director and co-writer Walter Hill gives free rein to young masculine fairy tale tendencies, labeling this effort "A Rock & Roll Fable". The intriguing and abstract aesthetic is neon-drenched vintage 1950s augmented by 1980s MTV, with streets always wet enough to glisten, the better to capture explosions from every shotgun blast. By era standards, the soundtrack is derivative but not bad, with two catchy tunes (Nowhere Fast and Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young) and a bonafide hit (I Can Dream About You). Diane Lane does not sing, but does fearlessly sell the thumping beats.

What Does Not Work As Well: The actors embrace characters fiercely loyal to two-word definitions like cool hero, ugly villain, pouty girl, and scrappy sidekick.  About 20 of the 93 minutes are occupied by musical performances, leaving scant time for what can charitably be called simple content. The drama depth and dialogue sophistication are at the middle school Grade 7 level.

Conclusion: Ambitious, audacious, and amalgamated style appended to asinine substance.

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