Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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In 1988, the movie Die Hard not only made Bruce Willis a blockbuster action star, but also spawned a new genre of films in which a lone protagonist outwits and outguns a group of bad guys who have taken over a building, a ship, or even a city. Some of these Die Hard descendents have been pretty good, such as Under Siege. But some are fairly bad, and The Taking of Beverly Hills is one of the worst. Literally, the only reason I watched this movie is because I was stuck in a hospital bed awaiting test results for two hours one afternoon, and this is what was on the TV with no remote control in sight more than one mans version of Hell, I imagine. The Taking of Beverly Hills languished for over a year before it was finally given the briefest of releases. It garnered a grand total $939,277 at the box office (just missed a million!), and youre about to find out why. . .
The Taking of Beverly Hills stars Ken Wahl of TVs Wiseguy as pro football quarterback Boomer Hayes, who is in Beverly Hills attending some swank party honoring billionaire Robert Masterson, played by Robert Davi. The necessary love interest, played by Harley Jane Kozak, is introduced as the object of desire for both Hayes and Masterson. That night, by coincidence, a toxic spill occurs on Rodeo Drive, forcing all of the residents of the city to evacuate. Of course, its all a ruse masterminded by Masterson, who wants to pillage the residences of the richest city in the world during the evacuation.
In his way are Hayes and Ed Kelvin, a disillusioned cop played by Matt Frewer, of Max Headroom fame. By now, you know the drill, Hayes and Kelvin play John McClane and Sgt. Powell from Die Hard, outwitting and outgunning Mastersons flunkies, and eventually save the day. The similarities between the two movies end there. For starters, one of the reasons that the cop buddy hook works so well in Die Hard is that McClane and Powell dont actually meet until the end of the movie Powell provides support for McClane in the same manner that a rescuer might provide a link to the outside world to a man trapped in a mine, albeit a man who has to first kill a dozen terrorists to get out. In The Taking of Beverly Hills, Wahl and Frewer are joined up fairly quickly, but despite being on-screen together for much of the movie, they have less on-screen chemistry than McClane and Powell in Die Hard.
Suffice to say, theres little redeeming in this film. Wahl plays the part of football quarterback fairly convincingly, but hes not given anything to work with from the script no Yippee-ki-yay! here. Plus, hes saddled with one gawd-awful mullet. Harley Jane Kozak is vapid and forgettable. Frewer has done decent character work before and since, but hes boring here. Ditto for Robert Davi, who can usually muster a little menace to his villains and can deliver a good line Agent Johnson, Agent Johnson. No relation. when hes given one, but of course, he isnt here. Again, I blame the script.
And who to blame for the script? Actually, we can blame both the script and the direction on Sidney J. Furie. Furie epitomizes how someone can get lucky once in Hollywood and then survive off that one success despite making bomb after schlock after pure dreck. Furie was responsible for Iron Eagle, a respectable little caper about some kids rescuing their Air Force pilot father from a crash landing in the Mideast which starred Louis Gossett, Jr. After Iron Eagles success, Furie was given the Superman franchise, and he promptly gave it the Doomsday treatment in Superman IV: The Quest for Dreck. Since then, Sidney Furie has brought us Iron Eagle IV, Pensacola: Wings of Gold, and V.I.P (youre wondering where Pamela Anderson fits into this, arent you?).
Now this review is part of Simply_Crispys Expunged From Their CV Write/off, in which each participant chooses a movie that one of the stars from the movie would like expunged from their resume. Now Sidney Furie is probably actually proud of The Taking of Beverly Hills, and Harley Jane Kozak doesnt have anything else of note on her resume, so she cant afford to expunge anything. Pamela Anderson? Besides the fact that Pamela Anderson has done porn, if shes not ashamed of Barb Wire, shes not ashamed of nuttin. Robert Davi probably was having Die Hard flashbacks during the filming of The Taking of Beverly Hills, and probably wondered what happened to his career (were wondering too, as hes only surfaced for Profiler since), but hes got so much crap on his resume now that expunging this one would be pointless.
Which leaves us with Ken Wahl. I think Wahl would like to have this one expunged from his CV in fact, I know he would. By 1991, Ken Wahl had established himself as a star in the TV series Wiseguy, one of my all-time favorite shows. Not only was Wahl excellent as undercover Organized Crime Bureau agent Vinnie Terranova, but he faced off against villains portrayed by the likes of Ray Sharkey, Kevin Spacey, and Fred Thompson (pre-Senator). Wahl even won a Golden Globe in 1990 for his portrayal of Terranova. Not to mention, when he divorced his first wife, a Penthouse Pet, he then married Shane Barbi, of the famous Barbi Twins.
So why in gods name would Vinnie Terranova deign to star in such a horrendous piece of gutter trash as The Taking of Beverly Hills? Well, Curious George that I am, I asked him, via email. See, Wahl set up a website, www.kenwahl.com, to sell a commemorative flag he designed to honor all the victims of September 11 and to raise funds to help the families of all those lost or injured. The website also allows you to email Ken Wahl, so I did. Heres the exchange:
The movie was made shortly after your great success with Wiseguy - right
around the same time you were winning a Golden Globe. What attracted you to
this movie? Certainly it's not your best work, and yet it was made at a time
when you were arguably at your peak, at least in star power? Did Sidney
Furie screw it up? Was its budget cut? What happened?!?!
Ken Wahl (or someone pretending to be him, I dont care):
This movie was made in between seasons of Wiseguy. I didn't want to do it. I turned it down at least 5 times, and they kept throwing more money at me. I finally relented, but only with the proviso that I had the head writer of Wiseguy re-write a great portion of the movie, to enhance the characterizations. As it turned out, the production company edited any semblance of characterization out of the movie, and turned it into a terrible so called action movie. Not surprisingly, this production company went out of business, as they had a bad habit of cutting their movies to seemingly make them as bad as possible. I had creative control on Wiseguy, but not on this movie, and that's why it turned out the way it did. Oh,well, you can't hit a home run every time at bat. Even DeNiro and Pacino have had their share of bombs; not to mention even the true all-time greats like Brando, Newman, Gable, Cagney,etc. It takes a large group of people working together to make a good movie, but it takes only a very few people to ruin one, and that was the case with TTOBH. Take Care,KW.
I couldnt have said it better myself, Ken. Say Hi to Shane for me, will ya?
Read the reviews of the rest of crew from Simply_Crispys Expunged From Their CV write/off - arjita, artbyjude, brodieman, d_fienberg, jankp, Lynus, Macresarf1, mfunk75, MrsNormanMaine, skbreese, susidee34, tjmackey, Vormancian, Weirdo_87, xxxxer, and Simply_Crispy himself. Links should be on Simply_Crispys profile page.
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