Sunday, 14 August 2011

Four Badass Lines from Film History

There are countless film quote compilations knocking about, perhaps the best known being the AFI’s 100 Years... 100 Quotes list ('s_100_Years...100_Movie_Quotes). The problem with this list, however, is it includes quotes from all remits – love, sorrow, and all those other girly emotions. Everyone knows that the best quotes are badass quotes, so here’s four I've picked out specially.

1.     ‘It’s just been revoked!’ – Roger Murtaugh, Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Lethal Weapon 2 was released at a simpler, less politically correct time when filmmakers could call a spade a spade. In 1989, anti-apartheid sentiment was at its height, with numerous boycotts of various South African products and events regularly occurring. Nowadays, an equivalent antagonistic situation (say North Korea or Libya) probably would be shown in films through a made-up proxy country to avoid pissing people off too much. However, one of the great things about Lethal Weapon 2 is that they go all out – the villains are all extremely South African, and the writers and director Richard Donner don’t pull any punches, with numerous references to the villains as ‘Nazis’ ‘Aryans’ and ‘the master race’. Throughout the film, the audience is actively encouraged to hate the South African consult (with the exception of Patsy Kensit’s character, who’s there to show that not all South African’s are gigantic bastards), but the real pièce de résistance is in the final scene. Having killed all the henchmen (including Derrik O’Connor’s character, who dies when Riggs (Mel Gibson) drops a cargo container on him), all that’s left is a straight shoot-off between the generally by-the-book cop Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and Arjen Rudd (Joss Ackland). As Rudd holds up his credentials and triumphantly yells ‘Diplomatic immunity’, on the assumption that Murtaugh won’t risk killing him, Roger takes aim and shoots him straight in the head, retorted ‘It’s just been revoked’. It’s an immensely satisfying moment, and it’s fitting that the African American Murtaugh gets to literally shoot apartheid in the face.

2.    ‘Garbage Day!’ – Ricky Caldwell, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

Think of the most mundane domestic chore you can. The likelihood that taking out the bins will come somewhere pretty near the top, right? Wrong. Did you know that putting your rubbish out for the bin men is actually the number one most common activity people are murdered doing? At least according to Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. As you can probably tell from the title, Silent Night is one of those films which very much falls into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. Unusually, it’s not really taking itself seriously or having a bit of a laugh – instead, it doesn’t seem to really have any idea what it is. The basic plot is that the brother of the killer from Part 1 (I don’t really need to fill you in on that, you all know that beloved yuletide classic) goes on a killing spree after his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend sets him off or something. The plot’s not really important; what matters is the utterly bizarre dialogue spouted by the killer Ricky (Eric Freeman). It’s difficult to really do it justice in writing.

If you’ve visited this place called the internet before, you’ve probably heard of garbage day. So what changes it from the deranged yelling of a psychotic killer to a totally badass line? Well, first of all, there’s the sheer creative genius and quick wittedness of the line. Ricky has literally seconds to think ‘Hm, I need to yell a short, punchy phrase that references what he’s doing whilst simultaneously informing him of the substantial threat to his life – Wait, I’ve got it! GARBAGE DAY!’ The line is so good that the guy knows he’s gonna get shot without any other information (a more natural assumption would be that maybe you were getting robbed, or that the guy wanted to go through your bins, not that you were going to be murdered for taking your rubbish out). Secondly, there’s the fact he should have had no opportunity to even the deliver the line. Let’s look at this again:

 Guy’s taking out his trash.

 He lifts his trash can up...

 ... to reveal – holy shit! – the deranged killer. Now it’s all well and good for the audience to get this dramatic reveal, as we’re being shown the action from on the ground, behind a bin. However, the victim of the first annual Garbage Day™ is stood up, and he’s already put on bin by the curb. How the hell did he not manage to see the guy holding a gun stood in the middle of the bloody road? Needless to say, if this guy wasn’t blind (the only way the scene really makes any sense), we probably would have been robbed of one of the best thought-out lines in cinema history.

3. ‘There is no bathroom!’ – John Kimble, Kindergarten Cop (1990)

By the time Kindergarten Cop came along, Arnold Schwarzenegger was firmly established as the biggest action star in Hollywood, having appeared in The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, Commando, and Predator, as well as starring in Total Recall (the same year as Kindergarten Cop), a film best remembered for featuring a woman with three boobs. Naturally, then, the next step for Arnie was to star in a light-hearted family comedy about a police detective who goes undercover as a pre-school teacher. However, the phrases ‘family comedy’ and ‘light-hearted’ clearly did not compute with Arnie’s cold Terminator logic, and he still finds time to act like a hardened action hero, except now he’s faced with five year olds rather than this guy:

John Kimble, Schwarzenegger’s character, grows increasingly frustrated with the kids - although who can blame him when they come out with stuff like this?

It’s hardly a surprise that he snaps eventually. Some may say he goes slightly overboard, and it’s difficult to tell where the character of Kimble stops and the real Arnie begins, telling the gormless/terrified kids that he’s going to turn their ‘mush into muscles’, which could well be an ad-libbed throw back to his suppressed memories of his bodybuilding youth in Austria. He then seals the deal by telling the children that they can never use the toilet again.

4.  'Yeah, well I’m taller!’ – Jack Traven, Speed (1994)

Before his sad passing last year, Dennis Hopper was one of the most highly regarded actors in Hollywood, with film credits for the likes of Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider (for which he was nominated for a screenplay writing Oscar for), and Blue Velvet to his name. In Speed, he played a guy called Howard Payne, who’s essentially a supervillain (how could he not be with a game like that), and the film was credited as introducing his versatile acting talents to a new generation of cinema goers.

Payne kills the partner of hero Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and forces him on a nightmarish, hair-raising trip through the city on a bus rigged with a bomb that will detonate if the speed drops below 50 miles per hour. Obviously that’s a pretty tough situation in any vehicle, but having to do it in unreliable, smelly public transport is enough to send any man over the edge, even half-man, half-tree Keanu Reeves. One thing leads to another, and Traven and Payne end up rolling around on top of a subway train beating the crap out of each other. There’s guns, there’s punches, there’s a speeding train – one of them is bound to be the downfall of Payne, right? Wrong. He gets the upper hand on Traven, triumphantly yelling ‘I’m smarter than you!’ Unfortunately for Payne, he doesn’t account for the onrushing signal light, and Traven forces him into it, decapitating him. No blood, no gore, just a straight-forward, old-fashioned beheading.

His comeback? ‘Yeah, well I’m taller’. Perhaps not the best line (possible alternatives: ‘Don’t get bigheaded’, ‘Don’t lose your head over it’, ‘YEAH WELL AT LEAST I’VE GOT A FUCKING HEAD’), but, hell, it works, and given you’ve just broken the head off of one of the Hollywood’s most revered actors, you could pretty much make fart noises and it would still be the epitome of baddassness.

(Sorry, couldn't find a video for this one)

A quick update

It's been quite a while since my last post. Since then:

I've had my Bad Teacher review posted at Cinema Obsessed;

And I've written two new articles for Meet in the Lobby; one on American Graffiti, and one on the Harry Potter series.