Monday, May 05, 2008

Obscure Movie Of The Week: Kill Me Again (1989)

Not just a great reason to post that picture of Val Kilmer, but also a good time to give the link to Maxim's great article on the 15-year anniversary of True Romance. It's three pages of fun to click through. Interesting to note the two biggest stars to emerge from that now cult classic are Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini. But that movie's never been obscure. Kill Me Again, and earlier Val Kilmer effort, is. And it's directed by John Dahl, who also gave us the previously mentioned classic The Last Seduction. Oh, and Michael Madsen's got a pivotal role.

This is Dahl's directorial debut, and it's in the same genre as "Seduction. And just like "Seduction", Kill Me Again only found a life after garnering critical acclaim. The original studio shelved the film, and only received limited release following the positive reviews. The movie's a major turning point in Kilmer's life. It's the second movie he made with now ex-wife Joanne Whalley, and, if you believe Kilmer's interviews, the movie where he loaned Michael Madsen money on the set and didn't get it back for years. But on to the actual film. Whalley plays Fay Forrester, a character cut from the same cloth as Bridget Gregory/Wendy Kroy from "Seduction". Fay and her man Vince (a never better Michael Madsen) have just swiped $800,000. In full Bridget Gregory mode, she gets in a fight with Vince over the money, and winds up tracking down Private Investigator Jack Andrews (Kilmer) for help. Fay wants Jack to help her fake her own death. In return, Jack gets $5K up front, and $5K when she's "dead".

Jack's got his own problems. In fact, he just lost his right pinkie finger because he owes big money to big time loan sharks, so he not only sees this as a nice pay check, but he becomes mighty attracted to Fay. So you know where this thing's going. Yes, the $800,000 belongs to the same goons Jack has on his payroll. So Jack concocts a scheme to declare Fay dead, only to have Vince find her still alive. So now you've got a crazed Michael Madsen after Fay, the money, and now poor Jack. Imagine the Madsen character from Reservoir Dogs and you know what you're getting from him here. In fact, I'm sure movie geek Quentin Tarantino saw this movie and knew he had to cast Madsen in Dogs.

Kill Me Again is not nearly as clever as "Seduction", but Dahl does get that star making performance from Madsen. He's over-the-top, sadistic, and everything you'd come to expect from him playing a low-life. And Whalley, who's good but not Linda Fiorentino good, keeps you riveted enough to pay special attention. She does have a doe-eyed sweetness to her that adds to her performance. Kilmer's performance is unique for him. You can see Kilmer actually TRY not to exude any sort of charisma at times, but he can't help himself.

Unlike "Seduction", our girl doesn't get away with the whole thing. It's a nice debut from Dahl, who cuts his teeth here before frying bigger fish with his next two movies, Red Rock West and The Last Seduction. But this movie's extremely re-watchable an a suitable beginning for a director who specializes in the attention to detail required to make a decent film noir. Yes, Kilmer was a whole lot thinner then, and frankly I'd like to see he and Madsen appear in more movies together. Yes, they were both in The Doors, but if Madsen finally paid Kilmer that money back, it's certainly time for them to reconnect on film. Because as great as both can be in movies, it sounds like they're both equally as nuts off camera. Director (if you can call him that) Joel Schumacher called Kilmer a "psychologically disturbed human being." In fact, Schumacher calls Val "the most psychologically troubled human being (he's) ever worked with." Kilmer, who at least one point in time lived in New Mexico, admitted to owning a gun because he lived in the "homicide capital of the Southwest and 80 percent of the people in my county are drunk."

I say put Kilmer and Madsen and Ray Liotta in a movie with Linda Fiorentino. Have the equally nuts David O. Russell direct. You won't even need to bother with a script for that thing.

1 comment:

TravisRoastBeef said...

Geeeshhh,,, Val Kilmer just looks worn out there.