Has anyone seen James B. Harris's Boiling Point? . . . [I've] always meant to seek it out.
Well, I got around to seeking it out. It's pretty dire, but there are shades of a much better film. There's an interesting attempt at balancing the cops' pursuit with that of the crooks, with Wesley Snipes' federal agent being given seven days to locate Viggo Mortensen's cop killer, while Mortensen's partner-in-crime, played by Dennis Hopper, has been given seven days to pay back the money he owed before being sent to prison. This symmetry is echoed at a number of other points, most notably when Hopper and Mortensen attempt to sell off some of their counterfeit cash and kill the intended buyer, only to realize that he had intended to buy their fake money with fake money of his own and all they have is more fake money. The problem is there is zero tension, narrative or otherwise, and absolutely no attempt is made to wring any effect out of the dual deadlines. Compare this to Harris's superb previous effort Cop
, where James Woods's search for the serial killer feels intentionally flat and empty as the film's point-of-view is so inescapable from his own back-broken weariness and mounting psychosis, with the violent conclusion completely lacking in satisfaction. In Boiling Point
, there is
no point of view, nor any palpable sense of intended ambiguity, and little effect or insight is gleaned from tossing us amidst a series of limp encounters between uninteresting characters whose lack of personalities bare the obvious stain of studio interference. Much of the relationship between Hopper and Mortensen was reportedly cut out, with Viggo getting the worst of it. There’s a promising scene early on with his never-seen-again girlfriend where he exudes an intimidating amount of rapidfire, predatory violence, but nothing ever comes of it and he gets little to do for the rest of the movie. This is even more embarrassing for whichever shithead(s) did the butchering since Carlito’s Way
demonstrated that same year what a capable scene-stealer he could be (after The Indian Runner
had amply shown how brilliantly he could handle the slow-burn decaying masculinity that a role like this calls for). Hopper doesn’t fare much better. He pays hookers to dance with him to big band shows where he waxes nostalgic about his past, most of which is relayed second-hand by the hooker to Wesley Snipes. She has a relationship with both in another instance of the film’s inherent stabs at balance, but to what end? All we get is a fucking happily-ever-after title card.Some Call it Loving
will each make my top 10 list of their respective decades, but this wasted mess is best left alone until a director’s cut can be salvaged, or at least a version in its proper aspect ratio (both of which are very unlikely).