4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
deceptively simple revenge movie,
This review is from: Rolling Thunder [VHS] (VHS Tape)
WARNING: Spoilers follow
Plot-wise, this is your basic revenge story. But under the surface it is so much more. The first section of the film, nearly the first half, dealing with the homecoming of Major Charles Rane, a Viet Nam POW, is genuinely sad. 90% of "action" films not only do not choose this kind of tack, but are unable to bring it off. Rane finds that his wife has started a new relationship with another man who has also become a kind of step father to his son. The film portrays his reaction to this with painful ambiguity. He is reserved, and behaves well, but we sense a rage boiling just under the surface. Then later, he is robbed by a vicious gang and his wife and son killed. He takes up with a young "veteran groupie" who is infatuated with him and sets out on the road to find the killers. The girl tries to dissuade him from his mission and be happy with her. But he is clearly pushed into a state where human relationships are a thing of the past and he eventually cuts her loose. To those who say this is a "simple revenge story" I would ask, what would have happened if the robbery never occurred? he was already portrayed as emotionally fractured, and his life was already going down the drain. In a weird way the murders gave him his wish to return to a simpler, more violent way of being in the world. All the complications of the first half are erased. Later he "rescues" his friend played by Tommy Lee Jones from his own seething existence in an intolerably boring home life and the men engage in a gleefull bloodbath, ambushing and blowing away mostly unarmed, naked men in a whore house.
In my opinion this is a film about men, male bonding, the male violent impulse. Note that Rane tells Jones "I found the men who killed my son." Why doesn't he mention his wife who was also killed? When the two men leave in their uniforms, Jones' wife says "you never put on your uniform for me." Time and again the women in the film are portrayed as ousiders who don't get it. After what the men have been through, women are useless to them. Jones then says goodbye to his father but not his mother, wife or anyone else at the table. The connection with sex and violence is always present. The romantic scenes with Rane and his young girlfriend are given plenty of time to linger, and it's no accident that the final shootout occurs in a whore house amid fleeing nude women.
In my opinion the film is in the same league as Peckinpah's, it is portraying violence as something enduring, even when you take the circumstances, the robbery, even the Viet Nam war, away. It's a deeper statement about what men are, and, though it has B-movie elements, a work of art.
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Initial post: Mar 21, 2007 11:17:55 AM PDT
Michael Mccormick says:
This is by far the best review about this movie I have ever read. The person who wrote this understands movies in a way only few can even think about.A+
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