The Hard Way

Too bad there's more method in the acting than the script, as John Badham's tired action-comedy formula squanders its best moments during the film's first act and wastes the nifty pairing of James Woods and Michael J. Fox.

With:
Michael J. Fox James Woods Stephen Lang Annabella Sciorra LL Cool J Penny Marshall

Too bad there’s more method in the acting than the script, as John Badham’s tired action-comedy formula squanders its best moments during the film’s first act and wastes the nifty pairing of James Woods and Michael J. Fox.

Fox is a popular star of action fluff, like Smoking Gunn II, who yearns for a leading role in a film ‘without a Roman numeral in it’. Determined to play a tough street cop, he decides to research the role by partnering New York cop John Moss (Woods), who’s involved in hunting a lunatic serial killer (Stephen Lang).

The film exhausts its best Hollywood in-jokes during the first 20 minutes, with a Penny Marshall cameo as Fox’s agent and lots of lines about cappuccino, personal trainers and Mel Gibson.

After the initial meeting of Fox and Woods, however, the pic degenerates into a series of random melees that will bring the buddies together – and introduce a stale subplot that has the actor helping Moss woo his sort-of girlfriend (Annabella Sciorra) as an added bonus.

Woods is appropriately gruff and nasty as the cop, and his trademark intensity makes a broad target for Fox to play off.

The Hard Way

Production: Universal/Badham-Cohen. Dir John Badham; Producer William Sackheim, Rob Cohen, Peter R. McIntosh; Screenplay Daniel Pyne, Lem Dobbs; Camera Don McAlpine, Robert Primes; Editor Frank Morriss, Tony Lombardo; Music Arthur B. Rubinstein Art Dir Philip Harrison

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 111 MIN.

With: Michael J. Fox James Woods Stephen Lang Annabella Sciorra LL Cool J Penny Marshall

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