Everyone should be very happy that our last big hurrah with Burt Reynolds was BOOGIE NIGHTS, a masterpiece loved by everyone except its two biggest stars. Without it, Reynolds’ late era films are kind of a bummer.
Taken RAVEN, a straight to video Cannon-type film in a post-Cannon world. Released a year before BOOGIE NIGHTS, RAVEN represents a worst-case-scenario for watching old heroes struggle through projects that don’t deserve them. I hope Reynolds got paid a ton of money to be in it because he’s the only thing that makes it watchable.
The film begins with Raven and his covert team of government operatives in Bosnia trying to recover something called a 666 Decoder, which comes in two pieces for some reason. The film is confusing immediately because everyone on the team, aside from Reynolds, looks identical, like the film was cast via a company specializing in meathead clones. Meanwhile, senators in Washington anxiously await this 666 Decoder and THEY look identical as well. It’s impossible to tell anyone apart in this film, making your inability to care about anything feel almost like an invitation.
All the meatheads on Raven’s team die except his main meathead, Duce. The two escape via helicopter and Raven starts talking about stealing the Decoder and selling it on the black market. A dark shadow falls over your soul as you realize Burt’s playing a villain in this thing and for a hero we’re going to be stuck with a barely-sentient pile of rocks who can only deliver lines if there is someone just off-camera holding treats.
Duce and Raven fight over doing the right thing, which causes their helicopter to crash, cutting us to a year later. Duce now works as a ship mechanic or something and has a Barbie doll for a girlfriend. All the women in this film are clones as well, and the film throws soft-core sex scenes at us as if trying to hit a boob quota. There’s even one out of nowhere ten minutes before the film even ends. So if you like women writhing while dudes move their heads around their general belly button area, this one is for you.
Speaking of sleaze, Duce catches Jacques Renault taking picture of him and his girlfriend walking while vaguely clothed on the beach. It turns out he’s been hired by Raven, who kills him once he acquires these photos. (Jacques: “I’ve known you since I was thin.” Raven: “That’s right. I’d shoot you in the belly, but it’d take five years to reach your heart.”)
Raven has two things going on. He needs half the 666 Decoder from Duce, and he also wants to kill the senators in charge of killing his team in Bosnia. It’s weird because he’s after revenge for something that didn’t really happen. He keeps saying the operation was meant to be a one-way trip. Except he and Duce got out fine and it was Raven who did the betraying. Raven’s point is that they WOULD have betrayed him had he not betrayed them first. For this, he kills them one by one.
Look, it fucking sucks. There is no reason to ever watch this movie. But dammit, Burt gets a lot of dialog and he delivers it well, even if he’s closer than ever to matching Norm Macdonald’s impression of him. I would so much rather rewatch any of the other films I covered this week, but you could do worse than hearing him tell his ex-boss “As a coordinator of ops, no one could touch you. As a human being, no one would want to.”
But Burt is the only thing going for this film. The rest is awful. And with that, Riding the Mustache comes to a sad ending. Luckily, next week starts a new topic that should remain pretty fun throughout.