Stone Cold

1991, Movie, R, 90 mins

Review

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Even in an age of grossly inflated audience expectations, stunt coordinator turned director Craig R. Baxley can stage an action sequence that commands--no demands--audience attention. But STONE COLD is a stupid, no-stakes movie, and no manner of high jinks can hide that fact.

Joe Huff (Brian Bosworth) is one of those cops--honest, committed and pissed off at the system that handles criminals with kid gloves. He's on suspension for his trouble, but even he knows better than to leap at the chance to go undercover and infiltrate "The Brotherhood," a white supremacist biker gang who've graduated from terrorizing ordinary citizens to assassinating public figures. Still, when the FBI makes him an offer he can't refuse, Huff--rechristened "John Stone"--gets into his leathers and onto his customized bike. He's not happy about it, though. His FBI contact, Lance (Sam McMurray), is a prissy clean freak who doesn't really look at home in biker bars. And the members of the Brotherhood, especially big boss Chains (Lance Henriksen) aren't dumb; they have their doubts about this tough guy from nowhere who wants a piece of their action.

Stone has to kill a man as his initiation. With the FBI's help, he carefully fakes a murder and is accepted by everyone but Ice (William Forsythe), who still thinks he's a plant. Stone befriends Chains's girlfriend Nancy (Arabella Holzbog); when he learns she's unhappy, he offers to help her escape. Ice catches Stone meeting with Lance and tries to warn Chains; in the ensuing chase, Ice is killed, precipitating a grisly Viking-style funeral. Nancy is killed, the man Stone is supposed to have murdered turns up very much alive, blowing his cover, and STONE COLD works up to a literally explosive climax at the Mississippi State Capital, which Chains and his gang take over and Stone must take back.

Director Baxley undeniably knows his way around vehicular chaos and action-toy heroes: he went from directing the non-stop mayhem of TV's "The A-Team" to mega-brawn no-brainers like ACTION JACKSON and the unfortunately titled I COME IN PEACE, starring, respectively, Carl Weathers and Dolph Lundgren. STONE COLD gets off to a good start, with roaring motorcycles and crowds of bikers who take you right back to the days of Roger Corman's WILD ANGELS et al. But as soon as star Bosworth appears--mixing up a vile concoction in the blender to feed his pet monitor lizard--things start to go wrong. A smirking pretty boy with a he-man body and a two-toned, skunk-like hairdo, Bosworth is so transparent a commodity that it kills any chance the picture might get down and roll in the dirt. It wouldn't pay to muss his hair, after all.

STONE COLD has all the elements--strip clubs, biker rallies, guns, girls and grudges--but everything's been cleaned up. Where older biker movies often wandered down surprisingly character-driven byways (and remember that those pictures starred actors like Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern and even John Cassavettes), STONE COLD stays on the teflon highway: it's slick and by the numbers. It's like being at a video arcade playing Narc, except that you're not at the controls: Bosworth walks into frame, fists fly, bodies thump, vehicles soar, flames leap, and then it's on to the next panel. Bosworth's plastic perfection is never marred, and it's an absolute given that nothing really bad is going to happen to him, so who cares?

As Chains, the ever dependable Lance Henriksen (of ALIENS, NEAR DARK and countless other striking supporting roles) brings a little grit to the proceedings, but his role is too small to make a real difference. In the end STONE COLD is just another exercise in mindless kineticism, glossy and utterly forgettable. (Violence, substance abuse, sexual situations.) leave a comment

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