I’ve always wanted to like Broken Arrow. I’m a fan of Woo’s earlier and later films, I enjoy Travolta and Slater in nearly everything they appear, but Broken Arrow has always been D.O.A for me. Sure, it has some nice camera moves, a cool score that recalls Carpenter’s work, and Travolta at the height of his ‘comeback’ era, but it’s all so hallow and uncompelling that over the years it has been a chore to revisit the film.
Air Force pilots Vic Deakins (John Travolta) and Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are sent on an overnight top-secret mission to test the capabilities of newly developed stealth fighter jet. The aircraft has been outfitted with the latest technology and affixed with two nuclear weapons. While airborne, Deakins aborts the mission for his own nefarious means. He attempts to assassinate Hale and then steals the weapons with the intent of selling them to terrorists. However, Hale survives the murder attempt and subsequent bail-out, he meets up with park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis). Together, Hale and Terry attempt to thwart Deakins’ plan before he sets off a nuclear weapon on American soil.
The Travolta schtick of being ‘crazy/cool’ was in high-gear in 1996. Riding his wave of critical and commercial revitalization, Travolta oozes charisma even as he chews the scenery and gobbles up his co-stars on-screen. Broken Arrow is a 1990’s staple of video stores and cinematic techniques that would become troupes of the era. Least we forget, Broken Arrow is also the movie that gave us Howie Long as an action hero. If not for this we’d live in a world without Firestorm.
Director: John Woo
Stars: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis