Raven (1996) – Review

1 Star

The mid-’90s were an odd time to be a Burt Reynolds fan. The former mega-star was creeping back towards critical favor with performances in Striptease and Boogie Nights that were well received. He was also appearing in straight-to-cable misfires like Raven and the Big City Blues series. But contained within even his most unflattering films Reynolds is always a watchable screen presence with a varied range. Raven positions the actor as both hero and villain and he carries both off well. The film around him falls to pieces whenever he’s not on-screen despite the presence of attractive leads Matt Battaglia and Krita Allen.

Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights) is Jerome “Raven” Katz leader of an elite mercenary team, on a deadly mission into Bosnia obtain a powerful Soviet satellite decoder. But when the operation goes south and his men are killed, Raven realises he’s been sabotaged by U.S. officials. After barely escaping with his life Raven sets out on a personal mission to eliminate Martin Grant (Matt Battaglia), the former team member who double-crossed him.

It’s strange that Burt Reynolds commonly worked with former stuntmen turned director for a majority of the films during the latter part of his career. Perhaps he felt that Hal Needham was instrumental in his career so he wanted to give another the same opportunity, or maybe it was because Reynolds respected stun performers more than directors. Whatever the case may be; Raven was helmed by Russell Solberg and outside of an extended action set-piece early on the rest of the picture is very dull. Raven was clearly inspired by Broken Arrow and Reynolds seems to be channeling Travolta’s character from that film in his performance, here. late career.

Director: Russell Solberg
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Matt Battaglia, Krista Allen, David Ackroyd

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