“Imagine the future, Chains… ‘cause you’re not in it.”
Drake’s rating: Rated B for BOOM!
Drake’s review: So if you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for a good action flick. Now back in the ‘80s these things appeared like grey hairs on my head, which is to say that there was seemingly a new one every day. But then the ‘90s happened and mindless flicks full of explosions weren’t quite as common anymore. That’s not to say they went away entirely, but big-studio actioners were becoming the rule of the day, with Terminator 2: Judgment Day setting the wheels in motion for bigger budgets and (sigh) the advent of computer-generated special effects.
But in 1991 came the last gasp of the ‘80s action flick. One-half biker movie, one-half cop movie, and a veritable master’s class in stunt work, Stone Cold rammed its way into the theaters like a runaway train, giving lucky filmgoers one last look at all the mindless excess that the previous decade had reveled in.
And then it flopped hard, and even the most tenacious of us had to admit that the glorious ‘80s were over and the ‘90s were beginning. And, hey, it wasn’t that bad of a decade. After all, we got Speed, Desperado, and Blade. And also Hollywood’s attempt to turn Nicolas Cage into an action star.
OK, the ‘90s were kind of weird.
But you probably want more of a plot summary than “Things go boom!” so here you go: Joe Huff (Brian Bosworth) is a cop who plays by his own rules, and his rules include stopping a trio of psychos from robbing and shooting up a grocery store even though he’s on suspension. Chains (Lance Henriksen) is the leader of The Brotherhood, a biker gang so mean that they shoot a priest just to watch him die, and then they blow up the judge who sentenced the offending biker to 45 years in prison.
And that’s just the first six minutes of Stone Cold.
Convinced by the FBI to go undercover rather than face double-secret suspension, Huff becomes John Stone to infiltrate The Brotherhood, attempting to bring them down from the inside. Add in strip clubs, motorcycle races, bar fights, automatic weapons and explosions galore, and you have the recipe for one raucous good time. Craig R. Baxley, a former stuntman who had previously directed both Action Jackson and Dark Angel, keeps Stone Cold in constant motion, speeding from one action set-piece to the next at a breakneck pace. Little time is spent on trivialities like character development because, hey, there’s a whole wide world of things to blow up out there!
Starring as Joe Huff, Brian Bosworth does a creditable job in his film debut. A former collegiate football star whose professional career was cut short by injuries, “The Boz” was well-known in the late ‘80s for his hard-hitting play on the field and his media-friendly antics off of it. He has a natural rapport with the camera and is wisely given a part that doesn’t require lengthy line readings or dramatic interpretations.
Lance Henriksen, on the other hand, goes full-tilt nutjob as Chains. Chewing the scenery like it was made of bubble gum, Henriksen is the manic energy that fuels Stone Cold. Aided and abetted by William Forsythe as the menacing Ice, Chains effectively declares war on Mississippi. Deciding that there haven’t been enough explosions yet, he makes plans to assassinate the district attorney that’s been plaguing The Brotherhood. Towards this end Chains uses guns, grenades, C4 explosives, and a military helicopter.
He is, needless to say, not a big believer in discretion.
Originally given the dreaded NC-17 for violence, you have to wonder just what was cut to get Stone Cold down to an R rating. Seriously, this film goes bananas during the climax, with Baxley happily indulging in crashes, stunt falls, shattering every piece of glass in the Mississippi capitol building, and blowing up a helicopter when a motorcycle flies into it.
Yeah, you heard me, A motorcycle hits a helicopter. I mean, why are you even still reading this? Go! Watch it now!
You know you want to.
- Guitar cam! Where can I get one of those?
- He does kind of look like Bam Bam
- Chains is a cool biker name. Gut, not so much.
- Craig R. Baxley’s father served as stunt coordinator on Stone Cold and several of his other films
- Baxley cut his directing teeth on episodes of the A-Team television show. So things going boom is kinda his thing.