Picks and Pans Review: Raw Deal
Nobody knocks 'em dead like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Think about it. Stallone, Eastwood and Chuck Norris have to work at pumping up their images with camera chicanery. Not Arnold. The Big Guy (his 6'2" frame looms, onscreen and off, as one bulging 220-pound bicep) is his own best special effect. This time the omnipotent killing machine of Conan and Commando is hunting smaller game. Playing an undercover ex-FBI agent, Schwarzenegger merely takes on two warring Mafia families in Chicago. "You've done a hundred years of police work in a single afternoon," says one stunned cop after Arnold's climactic one-man rampage. That final shootout is a corker, but action fans may wilt while they're waiting. For most of the movie Arnold strains to do the impossible (for him): act. British director John Irvin, who guided Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley through Harold Pinter's Turtle Diary, couldn't do much with Schwarzenegger. The script has more holes than the bodies of Arnold's victims and enough inept dialogue to prompt giggles. Meanwhile, such tasks as trying to twist his Austrian-accented tongue around a sentence containing the words "molested," "mutilated" and "murdered" are too much for Arnold. The love scenes are worse, though Kathryn Harrold is gorgeous and underrated, as ever. (Harrold had the similarly unenviable task of trying to probe for the heart of another legendary jumbo, Luciano Pavarotti, in Yes, Giorgio.) Tarted up here as a gangster's moll, Harrold unshirts our hero in her bedroom and hungrily eyes that Mr. World chest, only to watch him pass out from too much champagne. Irvin may be trying to kid the fact that Schwarzenegger can't play love scenes, but better to leave the romance out altogether. The funny thing is, though the movie's a dud, you keep rooting for Schwarzenegger. With material that doesn't strain his capabilities, he can be effectively endearing (Stay Hungry) or terrifying (The Terminator). He isn't much of either here, and that's the real raw deal for moviegoers. (R)
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