Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blow Out (1981) - A Review

John Travolta has been in some horrible movies. For every marginally decent film he's ever been in there are at least six other films that are atrocious. During the late seventies and pretty much all of the eighties, Travolta put out flop after flop that the average movie-watcher should avoid like the plague. If not for Blow Out then the only movies from that time that might be worth noting are Urban Cowboy and Staying Alive. So yeah, it was a pretty fucking awful period of time for poor Vinnie Barbarino.

But at least there is Blow Out.

And even Blow Out was considered a flop when it was released.

I've heard Blow Out be described as a cousin to The Conversation (1974) and Blowup (1966). Now I can't comment on any similarities or differences between those films because I've only seen Blow Out. I believe, based on what I've read, both The Conversation and Blow Out were inspired by Blowup to some extent. This bit of info might not have anything to do with reviewing Blow Out, but I mention it just in case you notice any similarities.

***Some possible spoilers might be ahead***

Blow Out starts out with a scene right out of Halloween. And no, I'm not kidding. John Travolta plays Jack Terry, a sound man, who has spent the past few years working on crummy B-horror movies. One night Jack Terry decides to go out and record some new sounds because his work buddy tells him that he is sick of using the same old sounds over and over again. So Jack Terry is outside, recording wind and a frog croaking, when he sees a car crossing a bridge. But then he hears a loud explosion and the car veers off the bridge and into the drink beneath.

Jack Terry drops his gear and dives into the water to try and save the driver and the passenger. He breaks a window open and rescues a woman named Sally (Nancy Allen), but he is unable to save the driver. At a hospital, Jack Terry learns that the unfortunate driver is the governor and a presidential hopeful. Terry also learns that the woman he saved is a prostitute and he is told to forget he ever saw her. After all, think about how the governor's family would be effected by such news...

Not good PR at all, is it? Just ask Tiger Woods or Bill Clinton.

Well, Jack Terry doesn't want to just drop it because he knows something is wrong. He knew he heard an explosion before the blow out occurred. And he believes that explosion is the sound of gunshot. So with the help of Sally, Jack Terry plans on letting the truth be known.

But there is one thing Jack Terry doesn't know...

A vicious killer named Burke (played brilliantly by John Lithgow) is fast on the trail, eagerly and joyfully, doing his best to tie up any loose ends.

Brian DePalma's movies are kind of hit-or-miss for me, but this one is definitely a hit. What really makes this movie great is John Lithgow's performance. Sure, I've seen him play a villain before in movies like Cliffhanger (1993), but this is the first time where I actually thought, John Lithgow CAN act!!!! Now you may already know that, but it came as a surprise to me. Until I saw this movie last night, I thought that Lithgow's acting ability was limited to the world of Harry and the Hendersons, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Shrek. So discovering a John Lithgow that could be menacing without being cheesy was really a plus for me.

I can't recommend this movie enough and I give it an 8.5 out of 10 on the Jacobian Film Joyness Meter.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree, Blowout is an excellent flick. Travolta's career was in the toilet when it got revived with his role in Pulp Fiction. He was in some awful movies. "Moment By Moment" was so bad, you need to seek it out (not sure this classic has ever released on dvd) because I'm sure you'll find some big laughs in that one. He was in Perfect too but at least that had Jamie Lee Curtis in it so it gets a one star bonus just for that.