Friday, 13 August 2010

You might not have seen...

Wisdom (1986)

I'm just going to confess right now, this is probably my favourite 'guilty pleasure' movie ever. Its got everything... car chases, over the top action, hammy dialogue, a phenomenal Danny Elfman score, Demi Moore and Tom Skerritt. Also it marked the directorial debut of Emilio Estevez, who also wrote the film. Estevez was in fact the youngest person (at 21) to write, direct and star in a film.

The premise is simple, John Wisdom (Estevez) is paying the price for a drunken joyride in a car he stole, the felony conviction rules him out of meaningful employment (he even gets fired by his brother Charlie Sheen, for lying on his application form at a fast food restaurant ) seeing his life slipping into the myre and his relationship with his parents (Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright... Alien reunited anyone??) is becoming more strained by the day and his girlfriend (played with delicacy by a fresh faced Demi Moore) he decides he has to take action. The action is simple, society sees him as a criminal, so why shouldnt he just become one? Now inspired by a documentary he watches in a bus station, Wisdom decides he's going to take his anger out on the banking system. He's going to disrupt the guys who foreclose on peoples homes and force them out on the street.

Now Wisdom goes into training, buys an army jacket and an Uzi 9mm, fills up some empty bottles with primitive explosives and goes after the banking system. The first caper is flawed, his mothers car dies on him, his girlfriend drives him to the job (blissfully unaware of whats going on) Wisdom walks in, coolly takes the security guards gun and jumps up on the counter, ready to read his demands, only he reads his mothers shopping list. Finally he gets his composure back and blows the banks files up! Giving people more time to pay their bills (how pissed off do you think the people who pay on time were?)

Anyways, his missus decides that she wants in too and they head across America doing the same turn, the FBI agent Williamson is ingenious, he works out that the Coca Cola bottle they've spun is an indication of what direction they are heading in (seriously, all Wisdom had to do was put two bottles down in opposite directions and he was fucked!) The net closes in, and our two heroes are aware they dont have much time left disrupting the banking system, then tragedy strikes and Karen blows away some hillbilly sheriff who was going to shoot her. Wisdom and Karen head for Canada, only to find the FBI in hot pursuit. Karen gets shot and is on her way out when Wisdom decides to face the FBI head on in a sports ground. Only thing is, Wisdom trades his bullets with the bin for a Peanut Butter sandwich, now you know he's accepting death as his fate. After an emotional dialogue FBI Agent Williamson decides he's not such a bad bloke, and is talking him down, when Wisdom stands up and gets killed in a hail of gunfire (despite Williamson shouting that the gun is not loaded) as a viewer you are genuinely saddened, then the real ending starts... it was all a day dream. Yep you read right, the previous 90 minutes was a fucking dream! Wisdom is fine, whacks his shaving foam on and we get to listen to Oingo Boingo's Home Again whilst the credits roll!

Now, I stumbled across Wisdom through a trailer on another film my sister rented and I demanded that Wisdom be our next rental. I watched it 3 times before I returned it, and got my dad to buy me the tape from the Video Shop, over the years I keep revisiting it. The charm is within the performances of Estevez and Moore its not a surprise that they were dating at the time the film was being made as they have great chemistry, one complaint is that Tom Skerritt could have been used more as should have William Allen Young (Agent Williamson) The dialogue at time is laughable (''you're rich in character and have great boobs'') but the cinematograpy is outstanding (Adam Greenberg, who shot the Terminator, keeps things on a grand scale) I keep on about the score, but it is almost hypnotic and showed the early potential of Danny Elfman.

Shamefully dismissed by critics due to the Brat Pack stigma (Estevez and Moore were paid up members) it failed to shine at the box office, but did better on video. It has garnered a slight (and I mean slight) cult following, with a 2009 screening in LA, also it now has a DVD release as a made to order DVD from the Warner Archive. Mine cost me $50, and the transfer was no better than my TV rip that a friend made for me in the US. A film well worth watching, and will forever be a favourite of mine

You might not have seen rating 5/5

UK Release - VHS Only
US Release - VHS/Laserdisc/DVD

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