Blu-ray reissue: Johnny Handsome ***1/2

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on September 4, 2010)

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Johnny Handsome – Lionsgate Blu-ray

Seconds meets Point Blank in this taut, nasty neo-noir from director Walter Hill, which is one of my favorite sleepers of the 1980s.

Mickey Rourke stars as the genetically deformed Johnny, a career criminal low-life with a knack for masterminding heists. As he nears the end of a prison stretch, he is offered reconstructive face surgery by an empathetic doctor (Forest Whitaker), who eventually helps him get paroled.

Johnny’s first order of business is planning some payback on his former partners, who set him up to take the fall. The trick will be how to do it while under the watchful eye of the cynical cop (Morgan Freeman) who originally put him away, and knows a recidivist when he sees one. Lance Henriksen and Ellen Barkin are the film’s guilty pleasure as a nihilistic couple who make Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers look like Ozzie and Harriet.

Screenwriter Ken Friedman adapted from John Godey’s novel. The Blu-ray release should earn this underrated gem new fans.

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