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.
Genre: Fantasy Horror/Thriller
Walken in Short: He plays ‘The Angel of Death’, but there’s nothing grim about him. He jokes, he cajoles, and he reasons with people. Of course, he’s also a sinister bastard, with a sensitivity to blasphemy, a short temper, and the power to put someone to immediate sleep (or set them on fire) just by putting a finger to his lips and saying, “Shh.”
Movie in a Sentence: The angel Gabriel (Walken) is angry that God apparently loves humans more than angels (just go with it) and so he’s hunting for a particularly evil soul that will change things, but an angel named Simon (Eric Stoltz), an ex-priest-turned-cop named Daggett (Andreas Koteas), and even Lucifer himself (Viggo Mortensen) will attempt to foil that plan, also because Gabriel’s plan involves turning earth into a second hell, and Satan hates competition.
Film Series: Here’s the big picture on the sequels. There are five of them altogether, but Walken is only in the first three. And with each subsequent sequel the quality level goes down a little more every time. However, they are still worth watching at least for the Walken Factor. It’s neat to see how his character changes over the course of the trilogy. I’ve honestly never seen the last two films. Without Walken, what’s the use?
Director & Writer: Gregory Widen – is mainly known as the guy who wrote the original HIGHLANDER film in 1986. Widen hasn’t done much after this film, though both great films have spawned numerous less than worthy sequels made by others.
Duration: one hour and 38 minutes
MPAA Rating: ‘R’ for swears and bloody violence, dead bodies, a guy being burned alive, an autopsied body, hearts ripped out and eaten, etc. But no nudity nor sex, sorry.
Actors Other Than Walken:
FUN FACT: Other than in PULP FICTION (Stoltz and Plummer) and the PROPHECY sequels (Hytner), Walken doesn’t appear in any other movies with these actors!
Available to Own: Several editions of both DVD and Blu-ray. In fact, the complete 5-film collection just got re-released on Blu-ray the other day (10/14). Remember that Walken is only in the first three, but the collection is actually cheap enough to warrant getting all of them in one go.
Similar Films: Highlander, Legion, Underworld, Constantine, Hellboy, Priest, Dominion (tv), Gabriel, I Frankenstein
Walken Content: 86% – He is the main antagonist, and he has many chances to shine. Plenty of great lines, and great moments throughout.
Walken Quote: So the school-teacher lady is backed into a corner and she asks Walken why he’s doing this. He looks at her intensely, and in his no-nonsense gravelly voice says:
“I’m an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on, in your existence is never understanding why. (He turns to the little girl) You. Gimme a kiss.”
Should You Watch This? Only if you like awesome. Honestly, it has a B-movie feel to it, I admit that, but between Walken, Viggo, Stoltz, and Goldburg, YES, give it a watch. Quotable and bad-ass. Darkly funny, and full of good moments. Not a perfect film, surely, but it is a lot of fun.
What’s Next? Ooh you’re in for a treat. Next up is a slightly obscure, heady, blood-soaked, existential, kind of horror-thriller-drug-addiction-thing. It is Abel Ferrara’s black and white contemporary vampire film ‘The Addiction’ (1995)…
I absolutely love this film. It’s great 90’s dark-horror/thriller like Lord of Illusions (Scott Bakula’s finest work outside of Quantum Leap). Really good performances all around from such a lower-budget looking film (I actually think this one had a pretty good budget behind it, unlike the direct-to-video sequels). I’ve seen all 5 films in the series (thanks for the Blu-Ray tip! just got it used on Amazon for $10!), and Walken is great in the first three, though the supporting cast in the first two sequels leaves much to be desired, aside from a relatively unknown (at the time) Brittney Murphy in II.
The last duo of sequels are very low-budget and look like they were filmed in Romania after the world came to an end, but worth watching once if you end up digging the ongoing story-line throughout this series.
Another fun fact – Walken appears in I opposite Virgina Madsen, who is sister to on-screen tough guy Michael Madsen, a favorite of Quentin Tarantino. There’s a lot of Tarantino connections with this film and (of course) with Walken.