Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Murphy's Law (1986)
*Unfortunately this review will be image-less, due to my DVD not playing the movie on my computer.
Jack Murphy is a cop feeling burnt out after a messy divorce. He's drinking a bit too much, and is none too happy with his ex-wife's new vocation as a stripper. Meanwhile, the mysterious Joan Freeman is gunning for Murphy. She murders his ex-wife and her new spouse, and frames the killing on Murphy, who's immediately arrested, with all evidence seemingly pointing to him as the culprit. He's soon able to escape the police, but he has the extreme displeasure of being handcuffed to Arabella McGee, a foulmouthed carjacker and thief who hates Murphy's guts, just like everyone else. Together, the two have to clear Murphy's name before either the police, the vengeful mafia, or the evil Freeman herself catch up with them...
If you're watching a Charles Bronson movie, especially one from the 80's, you can pretty confidently assume that it's gonna be an action-packed bloodbath, and Murphy's Law, despite not being the darkest of films, is the same, although not to the level of stuff like 10 to Midnight or The Evil That Men Do. It's a serious and very violent movie, but it has humour, and it's more of a buddy chase flick than grim police movie. There's not a whole lot of action, given this is more of a chase movie. but what there is is good, and spread evenly across the film. As for the buddy aspect, it's done well! Neither of the lead characters are cardboard buddy cop cutouts, like the tired and cliched old/young, serious/goofy, or by-the-book/maverick pairs, and their relationship is well written, with the two leads sharing decent chemistry, despite being such wildly different characters. They're also not at each-other's throats for the whole movie, which is doubly appreciated. It also helps the movie be less cliched that they're not paired romantically, aside from a bit of flirting later on (and implication at the end).
Murphy's Law has a sense of humour to it that many other Bronson films don't have, and it serves the movie well. It's not hilarious, but the comedy, mainly courtesy of Kathlee Wilhoite's character, is definitely worth a laugh, with a whole barrage of ridiculous insults! Are they good ones? Hell no, but phrases like "snot licking donkey fart", "jizm breath", "scrotum cheeks", "bug sucking booger", "Kiss my pantyhose, spermbank", "Why don't you watch your asshole, asshole!" and "dinosaur dork" are certainly entertaining, especially that last one! The funniest part of the movie is the oddly amusing scene of Bronson proclaiming his dislike for mayonnaise! I don't know what it is about that scene that's so amusing, as it's not anything mindblowing. I guess it's just chuckleworthy hearing Chuck Bronson saying something so mundane with as much passion.
The acting in Murphy's Law is all good. Charles Bronson is obviously in top form here with a fine performance, and delivers Bronson Justice to those who have it coming! You don't fuck with Jack Murphy!
Your mileage may very on whether you find her dialogue funny or irritating, but regardless, Kathleen Wilhoite is a likeable sidekick. Then there's Carrie Snodgress as the villain. She does a great job playing the psycho antagonist! However, while we do get scenes with her sprinkled throughout the movie, they're few and far between, and only one helps flesh her out. Also, when her character's backstory is revealed, it's a little underwhelming. All she did was snap and murder her boyfriend. That's it. That's not exactly the stuff of villainous legend. It's also a bit irksome that Bronson only encounters her at the climax, but thankfully mob boss Vincenzo acts as an extra baddie for Bronson to be at odds with for the majority of the movie's running time. Another annoying aspect is that Freeman is dispatched way too quickly by Bronson at the end when they finally move from the tense cat-and-mouse section of the scene to the actual fight. He just kicks her in the face and she dies almost instantly!
One last thing, I find it amusing that despite having regular sessions with a psychiatric parole officer presumably keeping tabs on her, Freeman is still able to plan her complicated plan for revenge, as well as go on a cross country murder rampage!
Another problem with Murphy's Law is the ending, which is pretty abrupt-There's no real denouement. Attached to this is the fact that the movie ends before we see the main duo being exonerated, and when you think about it, almost everyone who knows of their innocence, be they good or evil, are dead! These two are going to jail!...I kid. I'm sure things turned out fine offscreen, but it is a bit annoying that that aspect is never given proper resolution.
Finally, the score to this movie is very good! It's a fine 80's soundtrack that carries the film well through moments both tense, and low-key. The song that plays over the ending credits is ok, but not all that great though.
Murphy's Law is a typical Charles Bronson vehicle, which is to say it's a damn good movie! I recommend it if you're an action fan!...