Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Daylight [1996] (thriller, action, disaster)

Studio: Universal,
Director: Rob Cohen,
Screenplay: Leslie Bohem,
Genre: Thriller, Action, Disaster
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya, Jay O. Sanders, Karen Young, Claire Bloom, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Renoly Santiago, Sage Stallone

I didn't have high hopes for this flick prior to watching, as it was made in the mid-90s when Stallone was sadly known for bombing consistently bad at the box office. Well, some of his movies made in that period were still fun (Judge Dredd), but yet I had no hype at all for this one. I thought it'd be another silly and fun ride with one-liners and explosions, but what I've actually seen was an entertaining and intense thriller that left my hands shaking for 30 minutes after the credits rolled.

This movie kicks so much ass that I won't post any funny captions under the screenshots.

The movie was directed by Rob Cohen, who later would become famous for The Fast And The Furious and xXx. Somehow it's one of those pictures that are likable right from the opening credits - the effects, the awesome music, the titles racing in your face; would be neat to see the whole thing in 3D on a big screen, to be honest. Then, we see some trucks being loaded with hazardous materials and heading off to New York City to transport the dangerous barrels elsewhere - most likely to New Jersey, as they're riding to the Hudson river underwater tunnel that connects Jersey and Manhattan.

In the meantime, bunch of other characters happen to gather at the same place - a poor writer, an elderly couple, a group of convicts, a regular family, a fancy TV host, and few more. Among them is Sly, who plays Kit Latura - former rescuer that happens to drive his taxi near the tunnel that night, when a gang of stupid robbers smashes their car into one of the trucks full of hazardous waste, causing a devastating explosion that produces a fireball that runs through the tunnel, obliterating everything in sight, save for few survivors that managed to cover themselves in their cars. After the grandiose wall of fire slithers away, around a dozen innocents are left locked underground between the rubble about to crash down, with only three hours left to live. No air, no way out, no hope. Our hero manages to convince the EMS to drop him into the tunnel via the maintenance system, going Mission Impossible style. And then, he has to decide how to save everybody from the collapsing tunnel and lead them to daylight...

What's good about this flick is the right mix of action and suspense going on. There's a lot of awesome action scenes, combining the great physical and CGI effects. I'm not sure if everything shown in the movie is plausible enough - probably not - but the intensity gets the job done. My personal favorite scenes are the insertion, the first ceiling explosion, and the finale. Well, the latter may be overblown and totally unrealistic, but by that time you are in a such electrified mood that it doesn't really matter, because the climax seems that damn awesome!

While the characters are not Shakespearean gold, they are all developed just fine for this kind of movie. For example, our hero was fired from the rescue team for causing an accident that killed off several of his partners. Some of the survivors know the story and even try taunting him about that a little, but then everybody realizes that Kit's wits and skills are their only hope. And at the same time, he's not even sure on how to get it all done. Unavoidably some of the characters die throughout the course. Their deaths range from tear-jerking to plain horrible to even weirdly comedic.

Everyone seems to scold the movie for being too predictable - like, only the developed characters live, and others die. It's horribly untrue - you have no idea about who's going to live, you can't even say if the main character will survive (possible spoiler). And that's why this movie is so awesome - you never know what happens next, as are the characters. I can safely assure you that it's not predictable. Even Stallone is not a superhero this time - he's just a regular guy trained for such situations but as the movie goes on, he relies more and more on his intuition and reflexes than on tools and experience.

Overall, Daylight is a suspenseful disaster movie with decent characters, memorable scenes, intense action and likeable effects. The visuals, the screenplay, the amazing score by Randy Edelman and the actors do a great job treating the premise seriously and building a nerve-wracking story around it, no matter hos implausible. Just go watch it right now with your lights off and prepare for one hell of a thrill ride with Sly!