Classic Movie Review: Flashpoint

It’s been a day or two since I watched Flashpoint, one of my latest Laserdisc aquisitions, and I’m still trying to figure out a lot of shit. Even the title of the film is a mystery to me. A “flashpoint” is defined as:

1. The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a combustible liquid can be made to ignite momentarily in air.
2.
The point at which eruption into significant action, creation, or violence occurs

Now, I can tell you that at no time are liquids ever involved in this movie. Believe me, it takes place in Texas. And I’m pretty sure the moment of significant action actually comes offscreen in this feature, though the resulting violence itself is sweet, sweet justice This means spoilers people, spoilers on a 26 year old movie. You are warned.

The film opens on Border Patrol agents and good buddies Bobby (Kris Kristofferson) and Ernie (Treat Williams). These guys are close, man. So close, that the movie opens on them taking a totally non-erotic partolman shower together. Well, really, Ernie is passed out drunker ‘n shit, and Bobby blasts him with the cold wake up call. This ruins Ernie’s day, so he spends the rest of the movie being a hot headed, whiny, “and the horse you rode in on” kind of dick. Bobby, on the other hand, is too old for this shit and doesn’t give a fuck either way. So, yea-not the most likable leads, but it’s cool.

These guys are all bent out of shape because “the man” is replacing their patrol jobs with sensors. You see, this being 1984 and all, the film carries a slightly out of left field anti-technology stance, as the evil Feds come in and wreck everything for the little guys. Thanks a lot big brother.

It’s in the desert that our boys run across their respective love interests, Doris (Jean Smart) and Ellen (Tess Harper) stranded wih a broke down car. It doesn’t take much to convince the ladies to hook up with the gents, as they quickly couple up,  Bobby and Ellen, and Ernie and Doris. Or as Ernie call her, “the mean one.” And he’s right too, she’s a big ol’ bitch. Please enjoy this scene from the movie overdubbed with a Kristofferson song (way to do it Youtube).

After about 20 minutes or so, our movie decides to try and start it’s plot, when Bobby finds a Jeep buried in the desert. He digs it up, along with the skeletal driver, a rifle, and $800K. Well, now. Thing are getting interesting. But, Ernie’s not so sure about this. I mean, the money is 20 year old, but still good. They could be living the good life, all he’s got to do is say yes. But the poor bastard’s all hung up on the morality of it all.

In the meantime, these guys are still Border Agents, and thus have some illegal drug smuggling to bust. Unbeknown to them, some higher up are in on it, as Bobby and Ernie are forced to team up with Agent Dickwad (Kurtwood Smith) and his goons. Suspicious after the feds seemingly tip off the dealers, our two heroes decide it’s time to take the money and run.

BUT WAIT!

You see, this whole time, this whole movie, it’s all been a conspiracy, man. Yea, those guys in their suits? They’re the spooks, man! They were in on it man. We’re talking the big one. The real deal. See, this movie’s actually about JFK, man! That rifle in the jeep? That’s the one ‘at did it. Oh, man.

Damn you, gun!

Sadly, the climax of the film doesn’t go so well for Ernie. Moral hang ups having gotten his partner killed,  Bobby finishes this movie by thankfully getting revenge in the best possible way. There’s yelling, There’s a show down,and Kristofferson totally unloads a whole clip on Red. But, at what point do things flash? I have no idea.

This is a surprisingly slow and thoughtful movie. Things take time. The guys talk about stuff. There’s very little action at all. Often I thought of No Country For Old Men, and not only because Tess Harper also played Tommy Lee Jone’s wife in that one, but for the overall pace off it. Surely, it’s nowhere near NCFOM in terms of tension or overall effectiveness, but it goes for that vibe, rather than making this an old west shoot ’em up. I liked that.

The hole cast in this is great. Treat Williams is one of my personal favorites anytime, but everyone here is pretty right on, especially Kurtwood. And there’s even the likes of Rip Torn and Miguel Ferrer too.

But the best part? That’s easy. Tangerine Dream. They did the whole soundtrack. Awesome! Please, now enjoy some of the music overdubbed across shots of the soundtrack LP. Again, many thanks Youtube.

But you know what sucks? They were going to do an end title song, you know for the credits and stuff? But no, the director didn’t want that. Well, turns out he wants to use some super expensive Rolling Stones song, the studio says no, and some intern writes the “Flashpoint” end title song. AND it sucks! It’s the worst song to end the movie you could possibly have. AND now we live in a world deprived of a Tangerine Dream song about Flashpoint.

This one has mostly been forgotten, and it’s easy to see why. But, there’s still some great moments. A solid 7.JUst don’t go in expecting any flashiness whatsoever.

-Charlie


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