Thursday, January 14, 2021

Reserved Seating Presents "Hundos": STONE COLD

 by Adam Riske and Rob DiCristino

The review duo who enforce their own brand of justice.

Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.

And I’m Rob DiCristino.
Adam: Our “Hundos” series continues with a look back at the 100th highest grossing film at the 1991 domestic box office: Craig R. Baxley’s (Action Jackson, I Come in Peace) Stone Cold, starring Brian Bosworth, Lance Henriksen, William Forsythe, and Sam McMurray. Stone Cold is an undercover cop flick with Bosworth playing Detective Joe Huff/John Stone, a renegade Alabama police officer on suspension who’s blackmailed by his superiors at the FBI (McMurray and Richard Gant) to infiltrate a gang of evil bikers led by Henriksen. Stone Cold was a star-making vehicle/vanity project for Bosworth, who in 1991 was coming off of a short career as a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. On the star test, Bosworth does fine I think. It probably helps that I’m seeing Stone Cold 30 years after its release when there’s no hype around Brian Bosworth for him to live up to. He reminded me of Steven Seagal, where his physical space says more than anything he’s doing with his acting. I feel like if he had a few more chances he could have developed into a John Cena type of action star. As for Stone Cold, Bosworth is like a page in a coloring book where you have the outline of “attitude” but you haven’t filled most of it in yet with your crayons. He’s an Al Bundy type of heavy action all-star and there’s always room in the world for another one of those guys.

The movie itself is crazy and really comes into its own in the last 20-30 minutes with an over-the-top climax of the biker gang running amok at the Alabama state capitol. Those action beats are terrific, with numerous stuntmen flipping and flying through the air and (my favorite) vehicles going airborne and crashing into hovering helicopters. I love that stuff, all the crashing. Was this the worst week ever to watch a movie with this type of ending? What did you think of Brian Bosworth and Stone Cold?
Rob: Two questions before we start: First, did you notice that Stone Cold’s opening credits are in the Silence of the Lambs font? What the hell was that about? Was that the go-to style of 1991, or something?

Adam: I didn’t. That’s pretty cool though. I did some research and Stone Cold is an MGM movie and MGM owned Orion, who released Silence of the Lambs. So it was their signature font apparently. You’re welcome.

Rob: Let us know in the comments if any other MGM releases have that font, too. Anyway. How is it legal to screen this movie anywhere outside of the Bromley basement? I’d never presume to make programming decisions (#HeKnowsWhatHesDoing), but Stone Cold would be right at home as the third or fourth movie in an F This Movie Fest lineup, screening around 4 PM, when we’re all still hyped up but starting to feel that giddy marathon mania. Patrick has written extensively about this one in the past, so I know he’s a fan. To put it mildly: I loved this movie.

So much to get into! I agree that Bosworth is a finely-tuned product of that ‘80s-’90s-era (era) Action Star Development Program, a school of cinematic thought that prioritized building a persona around an actor rather than a character. He has exactly the right amount of charisma needed for the role, and Baxley knows when and how to cut around any of his potential shortcomings as a thespian. And yes, Stone Cold’s ending set piece is a little awkward to watch in light of recent national events, but it’s as if those events were set in an alternate, more just, and far smarter universe. The world of Stone Cold is a palatial world in which men are mulleted men, women are feather-haired sirens, and the ends always justify the violent, incoherent, ostentatious means.

Here’s my next question: Is this one of Lance Henriksen’s best performances? He’s a gigantic, delicious ham sandwich is this movie, and he seems to be enjoying every minute of it.
Adam: Lance Henriksen is a national treasure. His performance as Chains is really solid. The biker lifestyle suits him on screen. He’s no Wild Hog lemme tell ya, dude plays for keeps. William Forsythe was also great as his second in command. Apparently he was shooting Out for Justice at the same time as Stone Cold because the latter went way overschedule. The final two scenes with Forsythe made me laugh out loud -- the first because his accident is so abrupt and the second because...well...he gets a Darth Vadar send-off.

Going back to Brian Bosworth’s character for a moment, he really is so bad at saving people in Stone Cold.

Rob: He’s just shy of Jack Burton, with that same level of unearned confidence. It’s amazing.

Adam: Also, was it just me or were you expecting him to throw the newspaper in the blender in that opening scene where he’s making a bowl of slop for his Komodo Dragon?

Rob: That whole bit had me pumping my fists. I know we live in dark times, but we need to start bringing back unironically goofy character introductions like this. I loved when his nebbish partner shows up and accidentally sees Stone’s naked girlfriend in bed. Stone’s like, “Hell yeah, bud. Take a look!” It’s so ridiculous.

Adam: I love this movie too. It feels reverse engineered from its TV spot on Fox NFL Sunday.

Rob: What’s the secret sauce that makes Stone Cold stand out so much from other action movies of the era (era)? Is it the way the actors embody the characters so completely? Is it the tone? The incredibly reckless Cannon-esque explosions? There has to be something.
Adam: It feels like the last bastion of late 80s/Cannon action movies to me. I heard a theory that (in art) the first two years of a decade are basically still more akin to the decade that preceded it than it is to the rest of its actual decade and that’s how I see Stone Cold. It doesn’t have the slickness of a Joel Silver or Warner Brothers action movie like The Last Boy Scout, Under Siege, or Passenger 57. It’s much sleazier, which I say as an observation and not a criticism.

What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say with the closing credits? It holds on Brian Bosworth, bloodied and leaving a scene of sheer and utter mayhem, for a long amount of screen time while extras gawk at him. Is it like “Drink it in. This is the new action star”?

Rob: I’m sure I could read some kind of extra-textual commentary into that final shot, but no, I think it’s exactly what you say: He’s the man, and you’re lucky to have him. Dammit, why wasn’t there a Stone Cold trilogy? Give him a dog, or something.

Adam: What other '90s action movies could have been Brian Bosworth vehicles if Stone Cold was a hit? The one that pops into my mind is Black Dog, the Patrick Swayze trucker movie. Maybe Boiling Point.

Rob: He could have had Seagal’s career, honestly. Marked for Death, Hard to Kill. He’s funnier than Seagal, for sure, but there’s also a slight lack of self-awareness that might have been endearing if it was stretched to its logical extreme. Anything else on Stone Cold? I already ordered my Blu-ray.

I blind bought it on Blu-ray so I’m all set over here. Next week, our Pixar series returns with a revisit of 2006’s Cars. Until next time…

These seats are reserved.


  1. I just re-watched this a few weeks ago and it just hit me that watching a bunch of nazi bikers storm a federal courthouse isn't as fun in real life. But it is ironic that Chains Cooper succeeds in murdering the judges and the Senator and Boz takes out multiple civilians as collateral damage and still he somehow "wins" in the end. We needed more of this character.

  2. I’ve always thought this movie was the king of the “gross smoothie” trope.

    1. In this one they at leats fake out out because it's for his komodo dragon. or giant whatever iguana. what are the others?

      Adventures of Ford Fairlane? I can't remember
      End of Days?