A John Carpenter story served as the launching pad for Black Moon Rising. Veteran thief Quint (Tommy Lee Jones) is hired by the FBI to steal some politically volatile computer tapes. The owners of the tapes are displeased, and begin chasing Quint all over the countryside. Just when he's about to surrender his booty, Quint's car -- wherein the tapes are stored -- is stolen by Nina (Linda Hamilton). She delivers the car to her corporate-villain boyfriend Ryland (Robert Vaughn), who runs a hot auto ring. Nina then has second thoughts and decides to throw in with Quint...and round and round we go. The "Black Moon" of the title is the name Quint's high-tech, low-slung vehicle.~Hal Erickson
John Carpenter is a god. So, anything he’s even remotely involved with, I try to watch. This brings us to Harley Cokeliss’ (aka Harley Cokliss) BLACK MOON RISING. Carpenter sold the script in the mid ‘70s as a relative unknown. It eventually got made in ’86, though the script was rewritten by Desmond Nakano and William Gray. No doubt trying to capitalize on the by then famous Carpenter, who gets executive producer, cowriter, and story credits, the film is actually much better than I anticipated. Stylish and featuring a great cast, this heist picture with a whiff of sci fi should qualify as a hidden gem.
Tommy Lee Jones plays cool and confident professional thief, Quint. Expecting to retire after one last score, he agrees to pull off the theft of some electronic legal files for some shady government operatives. Things don’t go as planned, though, and he’s forced to improvise, rudely hiding his prize in an experimental supercar, the titular Black Moon. Another wrinkle flummoxes him when said supercar is stolen by beautiful but vulnerable car thief, Nina (the always-welcome Linda Hamilton). With the original owners after him, the shady agents breathing down his neck, and the supercar’s engineers asking for help, Quint’s up to his neck in unwanted attention.
With Jones and Hamilton, I knew it would be at least a decent watch. Our lead duo have great chemistry, with Jones putting in an understated performance and Hamilton alternately tough and warm. Look at the rest of the cast, though! You’ve got Robert Vaughn doing his best wealthy menacing villain take, fan favorite character actor Richard Jaeckel as a deaf assistant to the engineers, Fear frontman Lee Ving as an unwelcome former acquaintance of Quint’s, POLICE ACADEMY regular Bubba Smith, Dan Shor aka Ram from TRON, and gravelly Keenan Wynn in one of his last roles. Solid, by any measure.
Next to its cast, the film’s look is its biggest asset. Shot compositions are artfully framed. There’s lots of close ups, grounding the heightened action with a focus on the characters’ humanity. This also helps the impressive stuntwork, as we feel the punches and broken bodies harder than we might have without that kind of care of presentation. There are tons of beautiful shots of geometrically framed lights reflected off of gleaming metal and glass. The streets of LA are bathed in cool blues, giving the picture a sleek feel. Misha Suslov’s impressive lensing perfectly compliments Cokeliss’ assured direction.
You also get the legendary Lalo Schifrin on the score, adding a layer of class to an already surprisingly classy film. It’s not perfect, as he tilts into melodrama at times, but there’s no denying the power of the soundscape.
The aforementioned stuntwork is great. In particular, there’s a fight scene at the end of the second act that is fairly brutal. The car chase scenes are a ton of fun, especially with the futuristic jet powered Black Moon. Every effort is made to make you believe the car can travel at speeds in excess of 300 mph. Throw in a sequence involving a high-speed pursuit going the wrong way on a crowded freeway and you know this film can thrill. Cokeliss teases out the tension with the heist sequences, as well. The action, the thrills, and the intensity all keep you on the edge of your seat. The only time the film falters is for a cheesy love scene. Jones looks too old for Hamilton, it’s hilariously unrealistic, and Schifrin’s music calls attention to how ridiculous it is. Thankfully, it’s relatively short and doesn’t hobble the pace too much.
I was expecting schlocky low budget carsploitation with Harley Cokeliss’ BLACK MOON RISING, and instead I got a visually interesting and somewhat classy heist flick. It doesn’t really feel like a John Carpenter movie at all, but that’s okay. Admittedly, the supercar is a little hokey, to modern eyes. Nevertheless, I still had a good time, even though there are some minor missteps. Recommended for fans of THIEF, DRIVE, and KNIGHT RIDER.
I would recommend this to a friend
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Rated 4 out of 5 stars
Great 80s flick
Great 80s flick
Owned for 2 months when reviewed.
I had never heard about this movie until I was looking around on the Internet, but I am so glad that I found this movie. This is a great film from the 1980's with a great cast - Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, and Robert Vaughn. I loved the storyline of how Tommy Lee Jones must infiltrate a skyscraper to retrieve a special car known as the Black Moon. There are some great action scenes and a spectacular finale involving the car. Overall, I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who loves great action movies.