Pure Danger (1996) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

C. Thomas Howell isn’t a name that is commonly referred to any more, but back in his heyday (the mid 1980s) the teen idol was a fairly large player on the scene. He wasn’t a full-fledged member of the Brat Pack but he was in The Outsiders, a film that featured a number of future movie stars. Yet while his brethren Cruise and Swayze went on to headline hits like Top Gun and Dirty Dancing, Howell made a series of forgettable films that started with the ill-fated Soul Man (which astonishingly grossed $59 million in adjusted dollars). Things went the way of Judd Nelson from that point on, which is not indicative of talent, just bad management.

Johnny (Howell) is a short order cook at a roadside diner that is hardly frequented. He spends his days flirting with the waitress Becky, and begging his parole officer to let him off probation. When a Las Vegas hoodlum named Free-throw (Marcus Chong) dies a one of the tables with a bag of diamonds, the pair grab the loot and run. Before long every gangster is in pursuit and Johnny finds himself running for his life while falling in love with Becky.

The obvious inspiration here is True Romance, but the intended target is never reached. C. Thomas Howell’s jittery performance is more Ratzo Rizzo than Christian Slater, and his direction is adequate at best. Style point can be given for casting the enigmatic actor Leon as a gang leader and for turning a standard PM Entertainment production into something a little more off-beat. With so many other sub-par Tarantino rip-offs out there, Pure Danger isn’t worthy of a look.

Director: C. Thomas Howell
Stars: C. Thomas Howell, Teri Ann Linn, Leon

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