If anyone was ever meant to bring the excessive, hugh productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber to the stage, its Michael Cimino. With his grandiosque vision and tendency towards pushing his actors to give the broadest, most theatrical performances possible, Cimino is perhaps the greatest Opera director of our time. Unfortunately, Cimino became a filmmaker instead and soon specialized in creating overblown, overbudget movies whose huge proudction values serve only to reveal their painfully slight stories. Never has this been more obvious than his remake of the nail-biting 1955 film Desperate Hours (itself based on an acclaimed, often-revived play). The plot is simple -- criminal Mickey Rourke escapes from prison and ends up hiding out in a suburban home while waiting for his girlfriend (Kelly Lynch) to meet him. While he waits, he holds a dysfunctional family (Mimi Rogers, Shawnee Smith, and Anthony Hopkins) hostage. This is the type of suspense thriller that demands an intimate touch so of course, Cimino shoots everything in wide screen so we can see how vast all of his locations are. Seeing all that land out there, it makes you realize how easily any of the characters could escape if not for the fact that Cimino has two hours (actually more than two hours) to fill.
At times, it seems that Cimino specifically tried to cast this film with the least suitable actors imaginable. As such, we get perennial nice guy David Morse trying to be a threatening thug. Daughter Shawnee Smith at one point says she's a pain because, "I can be." (No, Shawnee, its because Cimino can't be bothered to come up with anything more imaginative.) Kelly Lynch sleepwalks through her role (and wanders around naked in scenes that would be titilating if not for how strangely pointless they are) while Mimi Rogers chews every piece of scenery available as a strident housewife who'll remind you why most people in the suburbs hate their neighbors. Worst of all is federal marshall Lindsay Crouse who basically allows a steady stream of profanity, a big cast on her leg, and the worst Southern accent in a long line of bad Southern accents, serve as her performance.
Still, as bad as the above mentioned are, Hopkins and Rourke are actually far worse because they actually could be acting if they wanted to. Rourke's playing a sociopath so he whispers all of his line and adds a few extra helpings of gel to his hair. Hopkins is a broken-down divorced Dad so he doesn't shave before his scenes. I hope both of them did wonderful things with their paychecks because they certainly made filmgoers suffer for that money.
Most bad films leave you feeling as if there actually was a good film hiding in there somewhere. Desperate Hours leaves you feeling that there was indeed a good film and it was playing in the theater next door. The only suspense generated by this film is wondering when and where Michael Cimino will strike next!