Streets Of Fire (1984)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/20/12
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe, Elizabeth Daly, Bill Paxton

A bizarre "rock and roll fable" that blends 1950's styling with 1980's sensibilities. When a popular singer named Ellen Aim (18 year old Diane Lane) is kidnapped by the leader of a violent biker gang (Willem Dafoe), her ex-boyfriend Tom Cody (Michael Paré) comes back to town to rescue her. Along the way he picks up a loud-mouthed ex-army soldier named McCoy (Amy Madigan), Ellen's current boyfriend and manager Billy Fish (Rick Moranis), a groupie (Elizabeth Daly), and a vocal group called The Sorels. After rescuing Ellen, Raven (Dafoe) plans revenge and challenges Tom to a duel, while the city teeters on the brink of destruction.

I remember seeing ads for this movie back when it came out, but I never got around to seeing it. I wonder if I would have liked it more back then? It's a good looking and well lit film with a neo-noir vibe, saturated with brilliant neon colors and deep dark shadows. The acting is intentionally stiff and awkward in an attempt to match the film's retro 50's look and feel, but Michael Paré still comes across as a dumb thug. Rick Moranis takes on a rare dramatic role as Ellen's slimy and despicable manager, and Willem Dafoe has never looked creepier. The film is littered with awkward musical numbers, and Diane Lane is visibly uncomfortable in her role as a pop diva. There is absolutely no chemistry between Paré and Lane, and their passionate reunion is laughably unconvincing (I actually laughed out loud when it occurred). While the cinematography is excellent, the editing is disruptive and some of the cuts force you out of the action. Shot almost entirely at night, the film plays out like "Escape From New York" (1981) in its execution and narrative structure. It's not what I was expecting or wanted it to be, and I was ultimately disappointed by it.