Streets of Fire – A Retrospective

As alluded to last week, another review of some weird shit this week.

When I was told by my partner in crime about Bad for Good, I was informed about another film. From the director of The Warriors. With some Jim Steinman songs for good measure.

Well, thats all I have to be told. I’m in.

What the hell is this? This is one of those kinds of movies that reminds you that if you make them a buttload of money, a studio will let you crank out something completely strange.

And that’s what we have here. The cinematic equivalent of jumping off a spinning merry-go-round. A hodgepodge of random ideas that got mashed together come flying out in a glorious wreck that only a Jim Steinman could write a song about.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and I suppose I should approach this thing like a grownup. Like someone who has seen a ton of movies. So lets take it in pieces.

This movie is an example of having an idea like “what if the 50s aesthetic only slightly evolved and the whole world was just under the Chicago L line.”

Thats what we have here. I am sure it was pitched as like Rock-n-Roll Musical Version of The Warriors, but that is NOT what we have here. The feel of this movie is like the parts of Grease 2, but with guns and no murder. We have the 80s show off your custom gun scene, but no actual killing. Just shooting cars.

It’s clear that what they thought they were doing is not what they were doing. What they got is like Fallout except no nuclear bombs.

Like all of this sounds cool but it doesn’t quite work. The director can’t wrangle what he has done. That is the strange part, he did it before. The Warriors is a masterpiece. This, he just can’t get it all to work.

Lets talk about the acting. Everyone must have been told that this was going to be a huge fucking smash cause everyone is swinging for the fences. They got Rick Moranis at the same fucking time as Ghostbusters as our lead’s agent. I am not sure he pulls it off. Oh, he is doing exactly what the script calls for. But it feels extremely one note.

You got Diane Lane as our lead singer at the same fucking time as The Outsiders, who can do the rockstar damsel in distress well enough.

And then there is our lead…Michael Pare…

Look, like they clearly want him to have the slick one liners, 80s style. But thats not who they wrote. They basically wrote a main character in a video game. He is the male equivalent of Bella Swan. We are supposed to want to be a badass like Cody, and…it’s just not quite there.

What that leaves us with is a glorious GLORIOUS trainwreck. We have a giant mess of an asethetic that doesn’t quite work with the music that doesn’t quiet work with the acting but all of it being so strange that you can’t stop looking.

It’s like you are watching it, and then you have a dance number in the bad guys club, then Rick Moranis has a one liner to make you think he is a badass, then shit starts exploding for little reason, then the gang hijacks the bus of a doo-wop group, then crooked cops (that everyone somehow knows is crooked) show up and the gang has to go all covert and shit.

It’s almost worth just watching to see what the hell the script is going to come up with to keep the action moving along.

There really isn’t anything like Streets of Fire. It never outstays its welcome, it lives an ever present now for people who wished the 50s never evolved into the 60s. Everyone talks like a 50s cool guy, but with synthesizers.

Like structurally the film is 20% musical, 50% a rehash of The Warriors, and 30% just random acting choices, edits, and art design that keeps you watching.

I don’t think this is a movie that I will revisit as much as I have revisited The Warriors time and time again. But, I totally get people who love it. Its weird. It is desperate to be cool but doesn’t get there, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2/4 – Again, ignore the score. This would be a way more boring world if every once in a while a Streets of Fire didn’t escape the studio. Everyone should be proud of this giant mistake.

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