I have had Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing stuck in my head for most of the afternoon, and I am pretty sure that a large part of that is because of today’s movie. See back in the late 80’s/early 90’s (you know, when MTV was actually cool and played music videos), a constant face on MTV back in those days was Denis Leary, who would usually appear in some of the short vignettes between videos as the “Nicotine Fiend”, a chain-smoking, fast-talking man that would rant about various artists and topics. Between this and his stand-up routine, he wound up being cast in several movies. In fact, he had parts in 6 different movies in 1993. But it was this movie, Judgment Night, where he finally had a real starring role and his career really took off.
The plot:Frank Wyatt, his brother John, and their friend’s Mike and Ray, are going to see a professional boxing match as part of a guy’s night out. They head out in a fully loaded RV that Ray is test driving, but wind up stuck in traffic on the freeway. Tired of watching the event on the RV’s TVs, Ray decides to exit the expressway and cut through the surface streets to get back on the expressway. However, they wind up lost in a poor residential area and, after being harassed by some homeless people, they try to find a map to get back on the expressway when Ray accidentally hits someone. Bringing the injured man onto the RV, they discover that the man has been shot and is carrying a bag full of money. Seeing a police car in the distance, they try to catch up to it but wind up losing sight of it. As they continue driving, they are suddenly sideswiped by another car and end up stuck in a narrow alley with the RV unable to start. As they try to figure out their next move, the back window is suddenly smashed in and a group of guys grab the injured man, named Teddy, and drag him out to the street, with one man threatening Frank and the others with a gun, telling them to stay in the RV. Out on the street, Fallon, the leader of the gang, arrives and after questioning Teddy about his stealing from him, shoots Teddy and then tells his men to kill Frank and the others. Mike uses a fire extinguisher to smash the front window while Frank sets the RV on fire to cover their escape, causing the RV to explode. Frank and the others run to a nearby trainyard and decide to hide in one of the railroad cars until Fallon and his men leave. Unfortunately, the car they get in is occupied by a group of homeless men, who demand money in order to keep quiet. As Fallon and his men are about to leave, one of the homeless men begins to freak out, causing Fallon and his gang to head to the railcar they are hiding in. As Fallon’s men open the door, everyone heads out the other side and Fallon ends up mistakenly shooting one of the homeless men that was wearing Mike’s jacket and holding Frank’s wallet. Frank and his friends make their way to an apartment building and go inside, eventually able to convince the two women that live in one of the apartments to let them use their phone. Meanwhile, Fallon runs into some kids and finds out where Frank and the others ran and heads there. When he gets there, he calls out to the inhabitants of the complex to turn over Frank and the others. When Frank says they should leave, Ray panics and pulls a gun on the others but Frank manages to convince Ray to give him the gun. The women tell them that there is a way to the other building on the roof so they head up there, where they find a jerry-rigged ladder to the next building. Mike, John, and Frank cross the ladder but Ray, who is scared of heights, tosses the ladder to the ground. As Fallon and his men approach him, Ray attempts to pay them off but Fallon ends up throwing him off the side of the building. Finding themselves trapped, Frank leads the others into the sewers, where Mike decides they need to make a stand, and they end up killing Sykes, Fallon’s right hand man. Heading out of the sewers, Frank and the others try to find some cover while down below, Fallon ends up killing one of his men when he questions why Fallon kept chasing Frank and the others. Seeing a passing bus, Frank and the others try to get the driver to stop but when she refuses, this causes a brief argument between Frank and Mike. They decide to break into a swap meet in order to get the security guards to call the police but as one of the guards calls the cops, Fallon slits his throat with a knife. Fallon then gets on the PA system, distracting the other guard long enough for Rhodes, Fallon’s last man, to shoot the other security guard. Frank and John try to run but Mike decides to fight back and manages to kill Rhodes, but gets shot in the stomach in the process. As Frank tries to distract Fallon, John tries to get Mike to safety but Fallon shoots him in the leg. Frank manages to get them to a closet for safety, then heads back to the security office, where he activates a silent alarm to summon the police. Seeing Fallon in the bathroom where he hid the others, Frank yells out to lure Fallon away and the two begin to fight, ending when Fallon ends up falling off a raling to his death. The authorities arrive and John and Mike are taken to the hospital while Frank is given back his wallet and then told that his wife is waiting for him outside.
Judgment Night was viewed pretty negatively by the critics, earning a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus seemed to be that they hated the acting and the nonsensical plot elements. A lot of praise was given to the soundtrack, which featured a collaboration of rock and hip-hop stars on all of the songs. The movie wound up being a box office flop, making just over $12 million off of a $21 million budget.
This is what I like to call a “time killer” movie, that is it is a movie that you watch when you are killing time, but don’t really get to involved in it. The acting was pretty bad but I did like Denis Leary’s portrayal of Fallon as a rather sarcastic villain, utilizing his sense of humor and comic timing to showcase what he could do as an actor. The story started off decent but then it did get pretty ridiculous when it was dealing with Fallon’s relentless pursuit of Frank and the others. The movie did have a lot of suspense in it and the music score helped with that a lot. But in the end, there really is nothing to keep you invested in this movie, thus why it is something to put on when you want to kill some time.
Rating: 2 out of 5