Directed by: Sidney J. Furie
Starring: Ken Wahl, Robert Davi, Lee Ving, Matt Frewer, Harley Jane Kozak, and Branscombe Richmond
“Beverly Hills is Closed”.
Boomer Hayes (Wahl) is a big stupid meathead named Boomer Hayes. He happens to live in Beverly Hills, California, which, to his dismay, is being “taken” by Lee Ving and his gang of fraudulent cops. They organize a fake chemical spill in order to get the uber-rich out of their tony mansions so they can then steal all their expensive stuff. Seems like a great plan, right? Well, Boomer Hayes reckons he can put a stop to it. Utilizing all the skills he learned on the gridiron, as well as all the intelligence that would imply, he teams up with real police officer Kelvin (Frewer), who originally was with the baddies but defected back to the good guys. Masterson (Davi) is the mastermind of the operation, and Boomer’s quest involves saving the love of his life/woman he just met that night, Laura (Kozak). Will Boomer single-handedly take back Beverly Hills?
Right from the jump, something seems off about The Taking of Beverly Hills. Sure, it’s a “DieHardInA” movie, but its low-budget, shot-in-Mexico vibe is clearly evident, and the scenes almost feel like they’re in the wrong order, or something. Beginning with an unnecessarily long intro/credits sequence/travelogue, and continuing through to the mixed-up scenes, bad humor and amazingly inane dialogue, not to mention the generic aspects of the plot, The Taking of Beverly Hills is one big - as Boomer might say - fumble. It’s not that the concept of a Die-Hard-In-A-Town that has to be saved by an ex-footballer is a bad idea per se, it’s the pain of seeing a potentially awesome movie fall apart right before your very eyes. We hate to see when an idea isn’t properly capitalized on, and here is a prime example.
The problem is you’re not invested in the characters, and you can’t really care about Boomer as a triumphant hero. He’s so much of a meathead, he can only think in terms of football analogies to anything that happens to him. So while there are a bunch of cool explosions, car stunts, shooting and general blow-ups and mayhem that ensues, it’s really all for naught, because we don’t really care anyway. We really, really wanted to care. But the movie wouldn’t allow us to. Matt Frewer played the typical, whining “regular guy” caught up in the action situations. There’s always a complainer. During a car chase, you know a movie is poorly written when the sidekick says something like “I think this is a bad idea!!!!!” Scooby-Doo has less audience-insulting dialogue than that. The end result is that Boomer Hayes is no more than a talking mullet.
So while Wahl’s mullet is both extraordinary and distracting, Branscombe Richmond attempts to steal focus away from whatever that is that’s on Wahl’s head by driving a tank and screaming while shooting a flamethrower. While those moments were indeed cool, the overall tidal wave of dumbness washes over every second of the movie. As far as the music, we liked the Jan Hammer score, and of course there is the time-honored sax on the soundtrack as well, but there are all these weirdly unnecessary hits of the day on the soundtrack too. The filmmakers must have paid a bundle for them. At random times we get EMF’s “Unbelievable” and Faith No More’s “Epic”, almost as if a little punk 14-year-old snuck into the editing room after hours and added them on as some sort of prank. But then again, you haven’t heard Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat” until you’ve heard a snippet of it tacked-on to The Taking of Beverly Hills.
The long career of director Sidney J. Furie is spotty at best: there’s the good, Direct Action (2004), the okay, The Rage (1997), and the downright awful, Detention (2003). The Taking is quite mediocre and appears no one really had much faith in the project. Fan favorite Robert Davi does what he can, and we loved seeing him brandish a crossbow, but for much better Davi, see The Dangerous (1995) instead. You’d be “Taking” up a lot of your valuable time if you waste it on an unfortunate dud like this.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett