There might not be what one could refer to as the “typical Jerry Bruckheimer movie,” but a look at a cross section of the blockbuster producer’s titles suggests a few common elements, such as good guys who are sometimes bad, and some bad guys who are badder than others. The following nine movies from the Bruckheimer canon share plenty of action, lots of male bonding and some comely wenches — usually of the cute, slim sort. “We’re in the transportation business,” the producer was once quoted as saying. “We transport audiences from one place to another.”
Plot: King Arthur unites warring factions in fifth-century Britain to defeat invaders.
Hero: Studly King Arthur (Clive Owen), delicate-looking Lancelot (Ioan Gruffud) plus a band of merry warriors.
Love interest: Cute tomboy Guinevere (Keira Knightley).
Villains: Conniving Eurotrash Italian bishop on the inside; invading Eurotrash Danish Scots (with bad haircuts) led by Stellan Skarsgaard on the outside.
Action piece de resistance: Fiery climactic battle between Roman Britons and Saxons which, mystifyingly, the Saxons lose. So much for Anglo-Saxon Britain.
Freudian twist: Arthur has identity problems stemming from his parents’ mixed marriage.
Social revelation: Contending sides in the Dark Ages were organized on the principles of modern American high schools.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Plot: Good pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) sets out to rescue British governor’s daughter (Keira Knightly) from bad pirates.
Heroes: Good-looking bad boy Jack, cute good boy Will Turner (Orlando Bloom).
Love interest: Cute, slim, aristocratic Elizabeth Swann (Knightley).
Villains: Snotty English governor on the inside; Eurotrash English pirates on the outside.
Action piece de resistance: Dead pirates walk underwater, don’t drown.
Freudian twist: Semi-cross-dressing Jack has identity problems stemming from his piratical inadequacies.
Social revelation: Contending sides in 18th-century Caribbean were organized on principles of American high schools.
Plot: Pretty-boy pilots suffer indignity of Peal Harbor attack, fight back.
Heroes: Lifelong excellent buds Rafe and Danny (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett).
Love interest: Slim Nurse Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale).
Villains: Foreigners again — Japanese Empire.
Action piece de resistance: Attack on Pearl Harbor, ostensibly a Japanese success story except for Rafe and Danny’s mystifyingly effective counterattack.
Freudian twist: Rafe and Danny are lifelong excellent buds.
Social revelation: American society in general, and the Canadian and American military in particular, are organized on principles of modern American high schools.
Plot: Grizzled driller and young apprentice fly to speeding asteroid with colorful buddies, blow it up.
Heroes: Seen-it-all Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), cowboy A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck).
Love interest: Harry’s tomboy daughter Grace (Liv Tyler).
Villains: Doubting bureaucracy on the inside; foreign-born space debris on the outside.
Action piece de resistance: Two space shuttles dock at Russian space station (with Russian Eurotrash attendant), crummy foreign equipment blows up.
Freudian twist: Harry and A.J. each contending for Grace’s attention; Harry gets most of it.
Social revelation: Outer-space drill teams are organized on principles of modern American high schools.
Plot: Escaping psycho criminals skyjack plane.
Heroes: Paroled, highly moral con Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage), U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin (John Cusack).
Love interest: Ostensibly Poe’s wife (Monica Potter), but after eight years in prison, Poe seems to prefer company of a good buddy on the plane.
Villains: On the inside, DEA agent Duncan Malloy (not Eurotrash, but played by European actor Colm Meaney). On the outside, sundry, led by fiendish Cyrus “the Virus” Grissom (not Eurotrash, but highly affected John Malkovich).
Action piece de resistance: Convict played by Dave Chappelle gets off a final gag before being ground up by landing gear.
Freudian twist: See love interest.
Social revelation: Escaping convicts organize themselves on principles of modern American high schools, perhaps inspired by organization of U.S. law enforcement.
Plot: Warmongering sub captain (Gene Hackman) and his cautious exec fight over control of nuclear weapons.
Heroes: Cool-as-a-cucumber Lt. Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington).
Love interest: Gigantic, tubular nuclear sub.
Villains: On the inside, Capt. Frank Ramsey; on the outside, Eurotrash Russian commies.
Action piece de resistance: Stars Washington and Hackman shout at each other at the tops of their lungs; onlookers seem to understand what they say.
Freudian twist: Father-figure Ramsey feels inadequate in presence of over-educated protege.
Social revelation: Contending factions on submarine organize themselves on principles of modern American high schools.
Plot: Buddy Miami cops save witness from murderous heist artists.
Heroes: Bickering buddy cops Marcus and Michael (Martin Lawrence, Will Smith).
Love interest: No real love interest, but tomboyish witness Julie Mott (Tea Leoni) provides cover.
Villains: Cop bureaucracy on the inside; Eurotrash heist gang boss on the outside.
Action piece de resistance: Heroes wreck jet and airplane hangar with garbage truck.
Freudian twist: Marcus becomes excessively alarmed when Julie queries his sexual orientation.
Social revelation: Police department organized on principles of modern American high schools.
Plot: Maverick U.S. Naval pilot (nicknamed “Maverick” for easy identification) goes to Top Gun flight school, learns to be a team player, kills commies.
Heroes: “Maverick” (Tom Cruise) and his good buddy, “Doomed to Die in Fourth Reel,” er, make that “Goose” (Anthony Edwards).
Love interest: Cool-as-ice blond instructor with the tomboyish nickname of Charlie (Kelly McGillis).
Villains: Rival pilots, mostly blonds, on the inside; commie pilots of unidentified nationality (though certainly could be Eurotrash) on the outside.
Action piece de resistance: Documentary-style footage of actual Navy jets taking off and landing on aircraft carrier.
Freudian twist: Maverick trying to compensate for purported failures of long-dead dad.
Social revelation: Navy has organized elite fight pilot school on principles of modern American high schools.
BEVERLY HILLS COP
Plot: Maverick Detroit cop goes to Beverly Hills to avenge buddy’s death.
Heroes: Fast-talking Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) and his trustworthy BHPD sidekicks.
Love interest: Axel Foley in love with himself.
Villains: On the inside, police brass; on the outside, Eurotrash smuggler.
Action piece de resistance: Opening chase of two-trailer semi with Axel swinging from rear.
Freudian twist: Foley shoves banana up his sidekicks’ tailpipe.
Social revelation: Police departments, including class clown, organize themselves on principles of modern American high schools.