Picks and Pans Review: Streets of Fire

updated 06/11/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/1984 01:00AM

Director Walter Hill, fresh oft the box-office success of 48 Hrs., has fashioned what he calls "a rock 'n' roll fable," but it looks a lot like a long MTV video. Diane Lane, soon to be seen in Francis Coppola's Cotton Club, plays a rock singer with more than a little resemblance to Joan Jett. During an especially rowdy concert in some unnamed town—the setting looks like a cross between Chicago and postwar Berlin—she's kidnapped by a gang of bikers. Enter her ex-boyfriend, Michael (Eddie and the Cruisers) Paré, who looks like a junior Sylvester Stallone and talks like him too. He is persuaded to go get his ex, and the love story begins. The streets are almost always wet, à la Blade Runner, and nobody smiles except when they're threatening violence, which means they get to smile a lot. The dialogue veers all over the place, ranging from such ' tried and stupid lines as "Let's get out of here" to hard-boiled 1940s detective talk—the women are called "skirts," the wimpy guys are dubbed "Shorty." (SCTV veteran Rick Moranis, in a straight role, plays one of the wimps, in an occasionally grating fashion.) The film is often very funny, whether it's supposed to be or not. But the most compelling reason to see it, aside from its gorgeously sleek, wet look, is Amy (Lovechild) Madigan, who plays Paré's sidekick. With her frizzy blond hair, baseball cap and rough mouth, she puts most current female stars to shame. The rock music by Ry Cooder effectively deepens what is already a palpably dark mood, and Hill has clearly thrown himself into this chancy project. He comes quite close to pulling it off too. He doesn't quite set the streets on fire though. Let's just say that there's a lot of smoke where this movie should have been. (PG)

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