The footprints of dozens of classic thrillers are imprinted on the slick, violent and energetic True Romance. One of the endless variations on the couple-on-the-run subgenre, yarn provides some amazing encounters, bravura acting turns and gruesome carnage. But it doesn’t add up to enough.
The odd couple here are Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette), a young man working in a comic-book store and a gal on the job on the streets of Detroit. Their not-so-chance encounter blossoms into true love and marriage.
Clarence, on the pretense of picking up Alabama’s suitcase, walks into the lair of her former pimp Drexl (Gary Oldman). Clarence kills Drexl and grabs his wife’s suitcase – except it’s the wrong one. Opening the Pandora’s box reveals a fortune in uncut cocaine. The young man foolishly believes he can skip town, sell the stash and escape to some remote paradise – in this case, Hollywood.
True Romance rides along largely on the power of its colorful rogues’ gallary. Besides Oldman’s gleeful incarnation of evil, there’s dopey fun in Brad Pitt’s space cadet and Saul Rubinek as a Hollywood producer whose ego transcends morality, law and common sense. Slater and Arquette lend the proceedings a charged sexuality, elevating the essentially inane material.
Movie mavens have a veritable field to plow in the Quentin Tarantino screenplay. Tony Scott’s slick style is visually arresting if too obvious.
[On laserdisc and outside the US theatrically, pic was released in its full 120-min. version, with more violence.]