Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rare Flix: If Looks Could Kill

That sounds like a dangerous proposition.  Today's Film is If Looks Could Kill, a 1991 Film about a teenager who accidentally becomes a Spy.  Why am I looking at it?  Well, as soon as they started running ads for The Kingsmen last year, I started thinking 'Why does this feel familiar?'  Admittedly, the Film feels like a mish-mash of a dozen things I've seen before- be it the posh Spies of The Avengers or today's Film.  It is not a 1-for-1 thing, so don't think that I'm accusing anyone of plagiarism.  Besides, how many people other than me remember this Film?  In it, a young man- Richard Grieco- needs one more Credit to graduate High School and manages to find a way to get it- go on the French trip.  I did this and I *never* got to meet the Co-Star of M.A.N.T.I.S.!  Due to him having the same name as a Spy set to arrive in Paris at the same time, our hero gets pulled into a conflict.  Can a Slacker become a Spy and save Europe?  To find out, read on...
Our hero- Richard Grieco- shows up for Graduation (late) and...get a note telling him that he still has to pass French 101 to get his Diploma.  *Sad Trombone*
In Europe, an evil Banking Executive (as opposed to a normal one?) is killing off Bankers and Spies with his henchman- Linda Hunt.
Grieco takes a trip with the French Class to get his Credit, but gets mistaken for a Spy from the moment he checks in.  He survives a couple attempts on his life, but the Spies with him don't.
He gets the usual array of Spy Gadgets after a bit blatantly stolen from all of the James Bond Films and goes along with the Story when he sees the car.

Out there, he is pursued by a metal-armed agent of the Villain (Bond Cliche confirmed!) and a mysterious woman in a white car (Gabrielle Anwar).
So get this: the Villain plans to have all of the lead Bankers of all major Nations in one place and kill them.  This will lead to him being put in charge and allow him to make a new Currency.  One Currency for all of Europe (to start with).

A single Currency for all Europe?  That is just plain silly...right?
Eventually, Grieco and Anwar team-up to stop the Villain.  One is doing it to save the job, while the other is there to kill him for revenge.  Whatever works.
Grieco frees his Classmates- who became targets when he did- and French Teacher in time to save the Bankers.  This, of course, leads to a big shoot-out.
Of course, this also leads to many explosions.  What would a Spy Film be without it?  Besides, there was a Gadget that he hadn't used yet.
To fulfill the final quota, the Villain falls out a Helicopter, gets buried in his own gold (the new Currency) and then crushed by the Helicopter itself.  It is no Goldeneye though.

In the aftermath, Grieco turns down another assignment- at least until after his Vacation.  The End.
It is easy to see why this wasn't a major Hit.  If you don't know, the Film only grossed $7 million out of its $12 million budget (minus Marketing, you must assume).  Is there a reason why?  Well, one issue would be the timing.  In 1991, the Bond Franchise had petered out in terms of Revenue and needed Goldeneye to return it to prominence.  So by aping Bond at this point, they were kind of asking for trouble.  The other thing is that Grieco is kind of hit-and-miss as a Lead.  He's not bad here, but he never quite does the full Character Arc he should.  He does charmingly-bad Student fine and nails in-over-his-head-guy.  The last one- Confident Spy- is not quite achieved.  Were they saving that for a Sequel?  As it is, Kill covers all the bases and does them well enough.  It just doesn't really feel all that special or unique.  It is not much of a deconstruction of Spy Films.  One of my few gripes about Shaun of the Dead is that it just kind of turns into a plain Zombie Film by the end.  In this case, it is pretty much always a Spy Film- that's it.  There's nothing wrong with that really- it just means that Film is not as good as it could be.  If you want fun, forgotten fluff, this sure qualifies.  If you want something more, keep looking.  On the plus side, they brought back the 'Everything is Labeled Exactly' Trope from the 1966 Batman Show.
Next up, I get in the spirit of Black History Month.  Since it is me, I cover some Blaxploitation Horror.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Saw this one in theaters, fun times when I was a teen, but as an adult, its so beyond silly. Still, fun, and the action never stops. Loved that bit with the chopper.