Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.
Walken in Short: He’s plays ‘Mr. Smith’, a bad-cop looking for someone to force into doing a bad thing. He’s great in this. Lots of lines, lots of screen-time.
Movie in a Sentence: ‘Gene’ (Johnny Depp) is just your average guy, a CPA traveling with his little girl, when two cops (Christopher Walken and Roma Maffia) suddenly take his daughter away and threaten to kill her if he doesn’t assassinate the governor (Martha Mason).
Director: John Badham – In his career, Badham directed some good movies: ‘Saturday Night Fever’, ‘Short Circuit’, ‘Point of No Return’, and ‘Wargames’ (among others), but shortly after making ‘Nick of Time’ Badham began a long uninterrupted career of nothing but television.
Writer: Patrick Sheane Duncan
Duration: One hour and 30 minutes – This film is notable for taking place in real-time, where one minute on the screen equals one minute in ‘real life’. Whatever that is.
Available to Own: DVD only, no Blu-ray yet. Which is unfortunate. This should totally get a Blu release.
Similar Films: Any of those films where a “normal guy” suddenly finds himself in an ‘action-film-world’, or one of those film where a situation is set up and it is a straight line ramping up the tension until the end: Grand Piano (2013), Phone Booth (2002), Three Days of the Condor (1975), Ransom (1996), or Out of Time (2003) which gets bonus points for having “Time” in the title, too!). Speaking of, a quick shout-out to an obscure Bruce Campbell film called ‘Running Time’ that not only is shot in real-time, but the film is one continuous shot, just like that Hitchcock film ‘Rope’.
Walken Content: I’ll say a good 79%. Walken is the main antagonist here. There aren’t many scenes where he isn’t at least watching Johnny Depp ominously from afar. He gets plenty of great lines, and several monologues, one of which could win best monologue ever, if that were a thing.
(Note to Self: Make that a thing.)
Walken Quote: This is a big one, but totally worth it. This is probably my favorite scene in the film. It has Walken giving Depp a kind-of pep-talk. Depp has just tried to escape, and he threw Walken’s walkie-talkie off the top of the building. So Walken’s pissed. A waiter comes by with hors-doerves, some kind of crackers. Walken takes two. And then he begins his story:
“There was this guy, big guy, Irish-Italian, red-faced, black-haired, jolly son of a bitch…” (Depp looks away) “…wait a second: nobody could make me laugh like him. He made a science of collecting jokes. We closed more bars together than I could count. And he was a pal. I loved the crazy mick, I’m not ashamed to say that. But he was a fuck-up. He had this image of himself, thought he was a con man. Always tryin’ to shave the edge. Nickel and dime. I’ll always miss him. Tell me why.” (Depp is confused, says ‘Tell you why, what?’)
“Tell me why I’ll miss him!” (Depp: ‘He’s dead?’)
“That’s right. He’s dead, but tell me why.” (More of Depp’s hesitations) “Tell me why he’s dead!” (Depp knows what’s up now: ‘Cause you killed him.’)
“That’s right, I did. I killed him. He fucked up one too many times, so I put a bullet in his eye. Then, I put two more into him just to make sure. Now, that was somebody I loved; I loved him! But I got the call, I put him down like a sick animal.
So, if you got doubts (said in gravelly-voice) about what’s gonna happen if you don’t deliver, letmetellyousomethin’: I’ll make graaavy out of your little girl just to season that Black Irish cocksucker’s meat. You do what you’re supposed to, young man. You do it now.”
~ Mr. Smith (Walken)
Should You Watch This? Yes. This is a tight little pot-boiler with moments of humor and suspense. Good performances all around, and Walken’s performance alone is definitely enough to validate a viewing. He plays such a baaaaastard. He’s cocky and violent, funny and completely unpredictable. Watch this film.