Sticking with the piratical theme, Cutthroat Island (1995) was on Film4 a couple times this week, so I set my recorder to catch it, fully expecting to check out as soon as the characters left port and sailed off in search of buried treasure (if not sooner)… but, once again, I got drawn in by the action, and saw it through to the end. Personally, I think the script could do with a couple more drafts to punch-up the cornier jokes and cut some of the more convoluted plotting… but it really wasn’t as gruelling as its production-company-bankrupting box-office-flop reputation would suggest… and I think everyone with an interest in swashbuckling should watch the awesome carriage-chase scene at least once in their lives!
Apparently the movie’s director, Renny Harlin, was determined to reposition his then-wife, Geena Davis, as an action-adventure star… and I think she acquits herself very well here, even if her character is rather too clean-cut and smiley to make a very convincing pirate captain. I mean, there’s a reason why ‘Jack Sparrow’ is a Halloween costume, and ‘Morgan Adams’ is a forgotten nonentity… she can be fairly feisty when she needs to be (and even seemed to possess super-strength at one point!), but she has absolutely zero swagger. ‘Charly Baltimore’ from Harlin & Davis’s subsequent collaboration, The Long Kiss Goodnight, would have been a waaay cooler (and scarier) pirate queen…
It also troubled me that no one picked up on the fact that the treasure map she kept flashing around was actually the tattooed scalp of her beloved father (and previous captain of the crew she commandeers), which she presumably cut from his still-warm head shortly after he died in her arms! There’s an especially troubling gag where she pulls the folded “map” from the gusset of her trousers… which is just very icky, if you think about it. Shudder. Meanwhile, her slimy liar of a love-interest, Matthew Modine, just seemed to be doing a second-rate Cary Elwes impersonation… which may explain why the German release title translates as “The Pirate Bride”, despite the fact no one actually gets married in it!
SLIGHT SPOILER: The quote I’ve used as the title of this post is one of the most eye-roll-worthy “quips” ever deployed by a hero/heroine while dispatching a baddie. I actually ychhh‘d at the screen in disgust when Davis delivered it.