Monday, January 18, 2016

#1,981. Reckless (1984)

Directed By: James Foley

Starring: Aidan Quinn, Daryl Hannah, Kenneth McMillan

Tag line: "Girls like TracEy never tell their parents about guys like Rourke"

Trivia: After seeing Aidan Quinn in this film, director Martin Scorsese hired him to play Jesus in the original Paramount Pictures development of The Last Temptation of Christ (which later got canceled)

1984’s Reckless featured a number of cinematic firsts. 

Aside from it being the directorial debut of James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross), it was Chris Columbus's (writer of Gremlins and The Goonies) first produced screenplay, and marked the screen debuts of both Aidan Quinn (The Mission, Legends of the Fall) and Jennifer Grey (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Dancing). 

The story of a rebellious high-school student living in a working-class community, Reckless sets itself apart from other teen-centric movies of the 1980's, and has more in common with such ‘50s classics as Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One than it does the films of John Hughes (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club).

Johnny Rourke (Quinn) used to be one of the “good kids”, and is still a starting player on his school’s football team. Recently, however, Johnny has become a recluse; he has no idea what he wants to do with his life, but knows full well that he wants to do it someplace else. 

At the school's annual dance, Johnny is randomly paired with Tracey Prescott (Daryl Hannah), a cheerleader who lives on the “right” side of town. Yet, despite their different upbringings (Johnny’s father, played by Kenneth McMillan, is a laborer at a Steel Mill), the two hit it off, much to the annoyance of Tracy’s longtime boyfriend Randy Daniels (Adam Baldwin). 

For the reclusive Johnny, falling in love is something he’s never experienced before, but will Tracey turn her back on the only life she’s ever known to be with him, or will she succumb to peer pressure and toss Johnny aside?

Everything in this movie clicks, starting with the performances of its two leads. Daryl Hannah is convincing as the good girl trying to hide her dark tendencies; early on, while out driving with Randy and her friends, Tracey plays a game of chicken with Johnny when he swerves his motorcycle into her lane. Ignoring Randy and the others, who are telling her to pull over, Tracey continues to drive straight towards Johnny, hoping he’ll be the first to "blink". As for Quinn, who looks like James Dean and mumbles like Marlon Brando, he’s equally good as the anti-hero looking to get out.

In addition, the steel mill, which employs practically the entire town (including Johnny’s father), looms heavy in the background through most of Reckless, and is all Johnny and the others can see when peering out the windows of their school. Shot on-location in communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, the film makes great use of its blue-collar setting, and shows us time and again why Johnny is so anxious to break free. 

Throw in a rocking ‘80s soundtrack and James Foley’s dynamic direction (at the school dance, Johnny and Tracey hop around to Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never”, and as they do, the camera moves continuously in a circle around them, bringing an incredible amount of energy to the scene), and you have a teen angst movie that is as vibrant as it is dramatic.

John Hughes was, without a doubt, the voice of this particular generation, but with Reckless, Foley, Columbus, and Quinn shouted back a little, giving us a couple of kids who looked around and saw that they wanted more out of life than their parents - or their town - could give them.  Reckless is 1950’s rebellion updated for an ‘80s crowd.

No comments: