Story: Nick Randall (Rutger Hauer) might not like law enforcement, but he still helps them clean up the streets, he just serves as a bounty hunter instead of a badge. And no one can track down a target like Randall, who has been able to find and secure countless subjects that evaded the cops and fellow bounty hunters. He is driven to hunt these criminals, but the cash is a nice bonus and that is why he listens when the C.I.A. makes an offer. A quarter of a million dollars are on the table, which Randall can claim if he can bring down a specific target, the terrorist Malak Al Rahim (Gene Simmons). Rahim is ruthless and is on a violent spree of attacks, so Randall is brought in to end the reign of terror. But when Randall finds himself in the dangerous, most personal case of his career, can he take out Rahim before things spiral out of control?
Entertainment Value: Wanted: Dead or Alive centers on a battle between an ice cold emotionless Rutger Hauer and an over the top Gene Simmons, which is reason enough to check this one out, I think. Simmons vs. Hauer plays out via a solid action flick that has some b movie vibes, but doesn’t go for broke with the wackiness. The action set pieces are fun, with car chases and gun battles as the preferred elements, as well as the explosive attacks. I wouldn’t call the action inventive or creative, but it is fun to watch and used well within the narrative, as far as pace is concerned. I wouldn’t have minded more action sequences, but I think this has a good amount of set pieces and is never dull whatsoever. I do think that perhaps the promise of Gene Simmons as a global terrorist might set up some wild expectations, though the movie ends up as mostly serious, with some wild moments sprinkled throughout. So no, this isn’t an outlandish action flick that defies description, but it is a rock solid, fun to watch action ride, so it is recommended.
As I said before, the main draw is likely the chance to see Rutger Hauer square up against Gene Simmons, a humorous concept that is fun to watch unfold. I love that Hauer is so detached, even in emotional moments, while Simmons seems on edge and ready to snap at any second. Hauer no sells a lot here, including some tragic events, while Simmons almost seems slapstick at times in his performance. Simmons as a terrorist is enough as a premise to lure me in to Wanted: Dead or Alive, but I think he is even more entertaining here than expected. He doesn’t dial up his turn to the stratosphere, but he does make some wacky faces and seems coked up at all times here. Hauer’s contrast as the numb, unflappable bounty hunter makes a great foil, though I do wish the two shared more scenes. I can’t complain about how their rivalry concludes, that’s for sure. The cast also includes Mel Harris, Robert Guillaume, William Russ, and Jerry Hardin.
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