Black Moon Rising (1986): Carpenter Hits Top Gear
Creedence might have seen a Bad Moon a-Risin', but I kind of wish they had seen today's film, Black Moon Rising, because I would love to hear a rootsy rock number about it. Tommy Lee Jones stars as Quint, a master thief in the employ of the federal govement tasked with stealing a data tape with information to bring down the villainous Lucky Dollar Corporation. Quint gets the tape, but when the heat rises, he stashes it in the back of an experimental super car on its way to a big auto show. Unfortunately, before he can recover the tape again, the car is stolen by Nina (Linda Hamilton) and Alex for her boss Ed Ryland (Robert Vaughn). None of this goes over well with Quint's FBI handler Agent Johnson (Bubba Smith) who gives his charge 72 hours to recover the car or face the consequences.
In different hands, the kernel of inspiration behind Black Moon Rising could have grown into a bounty of crap-o-la, but in the hands of the screenwriter, you might have heard of him, John Carpenter, it clicks. Throwing together a hydrogen powered super car that goes over 300 MPH, this is the titular "Black Moon", star crossed thieves, and an action/heist film might have seemed like a tall order, but Carpenter's script keeps everything moving nicely. The problems come into play with some of the acting. It goes without saying that Jones, Hamilton, and Vaughn are solid, but the supporting roles, such as Richard Angarola and Billy Lyons as the car's inventor/driver team, were more annoying than not. Some other minor players, like Lee Ving as Vaughn's hit man, either fared better or I gave him a pass for being in both the band Fear and Clue. Bubba Smith knocked his role as the imposing FBI man out of the park, and it was nice to see him in a non-Police Academy role.
Director Harry Cokeliss, who certainly must prefer Pepsi, puts forth the effort to maintain the pace of Carpenter's script on the screen. For the most part, he succeeds, and the film slides between action notes, suspense thrills, and heisty goodness with relative ease. Cokeliss was also the director who brought the world the classic Battletruck, and for the pair of auto-centric films that were Battletruck and Black Moon Rising, Cokeliss deserves the praise of genre film fans. Black Moon Rising won't change your life, but when you see Linda Hamilton get it on with Tommy Lee Jones, you'll finally know where John Conner came from. Talk about your trouble on the way.