Crime movies are perhaps the most complicated categorization of filmsthat depict society’s ideology of illicit and lawful, justice andmoral order, as well as worthless and desirable. Most crime films areclassified in the war film genre and they mirror society’scomplications with actual life circumstances that fulfill the desireof the audience for mayhem, underdog actors, and an imperfect justicestructure. People are interested in these films because of theentertainment and thrill they offer created around the sinisterbehavior of gangsters and criminals that place good against evil(Ramos 165). The offenders in these films tend to be materialistic,immoral, sociopaths, street-smart, and self-destructive in nature. Assuch, crime movies depict the dark and desperate world, despite theirmassive popularity in Hollywood and among audiences. Boiling Point(1993) is classified as a crime film because of its exhibition ofviolence and felony acts. The Action thriller is directed by James B.Harris and its protagonist is Wesley Snipes (Jimmy Mercer). In thefilm, Mercer is an agent that has been given a week to investigateand catch the men that have murdered his partner (McCarthy 38).Therefore, Boiling Point uses mature themes and slight formsof violence to entertain and appeal to crime film lovers, but fallsshort of achieving this due to its plotting flaws, and naivetyapproach to crime orientation.
For instance, in crime films, the lead character is usually expectedto face an antagonist that is evil and defeat him in an entertainingand inspiring manner. However, in Boiling Point, while DennisHopper provides the audience with a great performance as the villain,Mercer the protagonist’s acting is boring and uninspiring. Themovie offers some form of thrill when the antagonist is on screen,but when the lead character appears his actions and performance isflat, a trait that is not usually associated with action thrillers(Pallot 61). Hopper’s role is the best in the film as he shinesthroughout. Acting as an accomplished con man and sleaze offender,Hopper (Red Diamond) is depicted as charming, dangerous, and even alittle likeable. He suits the evil man role as he manipulates othercharacters to do his bidding and dirty work as depicted ViggoMortensen (Ronnie) (Naremore 27). Ronnie is an easily led crimepartner of Red and he provides an amusing role. On the surface,viewers see him as a quiet, calm, and peaceful man, but underneaththe pretense he is a lethal sociopath who can murder someone withoutremorse (McCarthy 39). He is ready to kill an individual that he doesnot even know just because he was asked to do so by Red. Hence, whilethe evil people in the movie perform their roles exceptionally incommitting heinous crimes and plotting dangerous acts, the moviefails to live to the expectations of a crime film because of theprotagonist (Orr 32). Viewers would have expected the lead characterto match or seem to outsmart the criminals with his ingenuity,charisma and liveliness, but Boiling Point fails spectacularlyin this aspect.
Additionally, when the movie commences, it promises to be an excitingadventure as both the criminal and the cop are working under adeadline. For instance, Mercer is required to catch the men thatkilled his police partner and avenge his death within seven daysbefore he gets transferred to another precinct in Newark, New Jersey(Jacoby 29). Similarly, Red had borrowed about fifty grand from aformer partner to use as a retirement investment before repaying thefunds. However, he has been late to reimburse the money and thelender has also given him a week to refund the money he borrowed. Assuch, he has exactly seven days to raise the required cash or he willbe in trouble having just been released from prison. However, whileviewers are expecting the movie to be full of action and chasingaround, it offers them the contrary. The action seen in the move islimited and far between, making it a failure in the action thrillergenre. Midway through the movie, the audience realizes that theenergy exhibited and promised at the start of the movie is highlylacking as the film turns out to be a disappointment (Grossman 22).While most action movies are full of violent events, Boiling Pointattempts to adopt an intelligent perspective, which only contributesto making it less appealing as opposed to making it a thriving crimestory.
Moreover, the characters in the film are very few which limits theexcitement. Only three characters, including Mercer, Red, and Ronniehave starring roles in the film. Most of the other actors are onlyundertaking supporting roles. The film is filled with sub-par actingthat contributes to making it highly boring. Most roles of the otheractors are subdued, making the movie highly predictable. Forinstance, the film involves familiar appurtenances from supportingcharacters such as a trusty partner in Dan Hedaya, a beloved son, ahooker (Lolita Davidovich), and an estranged wife among others. Theending of the movie can be guessed from the opening scene, as in theend viewers realize that Ronnie was Red’s Flunky, whom hemanipulated to accomplish his whims. The director tries to use thecharacters in the film to offer viewers differing plot twists as ameans of covering for the lack of more action and energy (Grossman23). However, these plots seem disconnected and reprehensivelysubstantiated as most of the characters appear to be irrelevant tothe overall plot. The characters do not seem to believe what they aresaying an attribute associated with the lack of energy exhibited inthe film and its failure to offer viewers any form of surprisingtwirl.
In the film, Lolita Davidovich, high-class-hooker provides a lovetriangle theme that adds to the excitement of the collision of thelead character and the antagonist (Shaw 88). Even the love conflictin the film is uninteresting to the audience. Mercer is havingtrouble with his wife who wants to leave him because his police workis interfering with their normal family life. He finds solace in thehooker who adores him. She is willing to live with Mercer withoutrequiring him to leave his job as is wife wants. The film attempts toconnect Mercer and Lolita as people that have had tough lives, butthe love chemistry is lacking these two lost souls. However, havingbeen estranged from his wife, Red is also interested in the samehooker. He even surprises her when he takes her dancing to thebig-band music tune. Nonetheless, even this plot twist is not asappealing and fruitful as many viewers would have expected (Shaw 88).It seems that the director was briefly touching on the different plottwists without offering each adequate time to develop into excitingaction that captures the audience’s interest and emotions.
Other failures of the film as crime movie are depicted by the varioussupporting characters. For instance, the loan shark Tony Lo Bianco issupposed to be intimidating and scary given that he has given theantagonist a deadline to return the money borrowed. However, when heappears on screen he is portrayed as a fat man that smokescontinuously and speaks in a husky voice, but not as threatening asone would have expected. The criminals, particularly those that arefeared in crime movies are supposed to be merciless and deadlykillers. They do not show empathy or value anyone. As such, since hehas forced Red to seek means to return the money in a specificperiod, viewers expect him to be even tougher and rougher than Red.However, when the audience meets him, they are disappointed becausehe does not depict the stereotypical traits of a threatening villain(Allon, Del Cullen and Hannah 73). The director could have at leastportrayed him committing some heinous crimes to people that failed topay his money, to show his dangerousness. Such actions could havemade the actions of criminals such as Ronnie and Red believablebecause if they were faced by a very treacherous man, they would bedesperate enough to kill, in order to survive. However, the Characterthat is exhibited in Boiling Point portrays none of thesetraits which only qualifies the movie as an average crime moviewithout the excitement that is mostly associated with films in thisgenre.
Most crime films that involve police investigation involve lawenforcement officers that are depicted as the ideal man that isresponsible, fearless, independent, unemotional, heterosexual, andsuperhumanly powerful. The aim of these movies is to restore justiceand moral order, which the protagonist accomplishes by depictingtough, powerful, vigilant, and smart cop traits. These movies usuallytend to depict the cop as unable of accomplishing a difficult task ofreinstating law and order in the midst of corruption and brutalitythat hinders the hero’s efforts to straighten the system. However,Mercer is not depicted as the action movie hero that is masculine,smart, and enthralling. Instead, he is portrayed as a straight-lacedand clean cut, emaciated individual that can hardly pass for theaction thriller film hero. The protagonist is not shown as beingmasculine and tough enough, but with a slim posture and quietattitude (Pallot 61). For example, when Hedaya advises Mercer that heshould play by the law when he finds out who killed his formerpartner, the protagonist answers that he would do whatever necessaryto catch the perpetrator. He is chiefly promising that he has nodesire to follow the due course of the law in arresting the criminal.Thus, when he meets Ronnie and Red at a club, he takes out his gunand shoots Ronnie while Red is arrested. Consequently, BoilingPoint fails to achieve the status of a crime film because it doesnot involve the expected traits an of upright and diligentinvestigating police officer.
In the Boiling Point film, the influence of Hays ProductionCode can be witnessed. The code came into play in the early 1930s andit contributed to the termination of glorifying of criminals. It alsoputs a stop to the approval of violence, gangster lifestyle, andruthless killing methods. The Hays office censorship required filmsto depict moral pronouncement in their themes, and present thevillains as psychopaths as opposed to showing them as heroes(Grossman 20). Most crime films tend to emphasize that transgressiondoes not pay and that justice will be achieved in the long-run. Basedon the requirements of the Hays Office code, Boiling Point canbe classified as a relevant example of modern crime films. The filmsadhere to the code as it shows minimal details of brutal crimesthrough its limited action. Red and Ronnie are also portrayed associopath criminals that fit into the described crime film code.Moreover, the perpetrators of the murder and other criminal offensesin the film are brought to book eventually. Ronnie is shot and killedfor murdering a police officer while Red is arrested for his part inmasterminding the execution. However, the film also fails in itsdepiction of the lead character. Mercer is just as cynical andarrogant as the criminals he is chasing. He shoots and kills Ronnieinstead of arresting him, which amounts to taking justice into hisown hands. Accordingly, this is another incident that shows thatwhile the film does depict some of the requirements of modern crimefilms it also disqualifies them by the mistakes or actions of thehero character.
Besides, the crime film genre tends to be full of an air of mysteryand fast paced. The characters such as the criminals offer themystery that the hero is trying to solve, but it can also be acquiredfrom the plot. Unfortunately, in Boiling Point the viewers areintroduced immediately to the plot and direction of the movie fromits start. One gets the sense that Red is manipulating Ronnie to doall the handwork for him at the initial stages of the movie.Additionally, it is predictable that at the climax of the movie bothRonnie and Red will be brought to justice for their part in thekilling of the protagonist’s police partner. Ultimately, this iswhat happens at the climax indicating that the film did not have anyform of alarming surprises. Moreover, even the other supportingcharacters do not offer any novel thrill that is surprising to theaudience. The crime movies have been known to be acted in a fastpaced manner with police chasing cars or criminals. Contrary to thiscommon trait, such scenes are not witnessed in Boiling Point, asthe film is slow paced with restricted scenes of action (Otfinoski101). Hence, this contributes to making the film not only boring, butalso uninteresting to the viewers. As a result, the film falls shortof fulfilling the qualities of a crime movie because it lacks themystery element that is often prominent in such narrations.
In most cases, crime films are usually morality tales. A person mightbe pursuing the American dream, but in reality their life is theopposite. The films tend to present the admirable life to belong tothe criminals while the hero usually is placed in the shoes of anordinary individual in the society but with admirable traits that areinspiring (Ramos 163). In such instances, the criminals representsuccess stories while the protagonist is struggling. The criminalusually leads a life of affluent, while the hero, who is often apolice officer, is trying to make ends meet using their meagersalary. Hence, at times, some officers are tempted to work withcriminals because of the lucrative income that they get fromshielding or aiding criminals. As a result, this results in corruptexecutives and police officers that support criminal activity inreturn for extra criminal money. However, in Boiling Point thecriminal and protagonist are both leading a difficult life. Red is asmall time con man that is trying to pull off a big time job beforehe retires from his criminal life. However, in double-cross casethings go wrong and an undercover police officer, who happens to beMercer’s partner, is shot and killed. Hence, the story is slightlydifferent from other crime movies because of the status of thecriminal mastermind. Nonetheless, both Ronnie and Red seem to bedoing well, particularly in their personal lives when compared toMercer. Essentially, Mercer seems to be having more trouble both athome and at work. At home is wife is threatening to leave him as sheblames his work for placing a strain on their marriage (Pallot 62).In addition, at work he is supposed to be transferred to anotherpolice station following the death of his partner and time is runningout. For this reason, when compared to the criminals in the film theprotagonist seems to face more challenges in his professional andpersonal life. As such, this makes the film a perfect example of acrime film. However, what limits the movie is the condition of thecriminals he is chasing. Mercer is not after a drug baron orprominent money launderer but a small time criminal that is alsostruggling to make ends meet. Red is striving to make it big so thathe can repay a loan which does not place him as the stereotypicalvillain in crime films.
Crime films usually revolve around the actions of felony mastermind.In most cases, the films offer chronicle events concerning thecriminal mastermind, starting from their rise that involves theperpetration of criminal acts to acquire power and wealth, andculminates in their downfall. In most crime films, the hero managesto defeat the antagonist by killing, avenging a crime, or arrestingthe villain. A film like Boiling Point follows the life ofMercer, who is the person that is in pursuit of a criminal. On thesame time, it narrates about the crimes of the offender being sortafter, through the different sub-plots witnessed in the film. Whilethe movie boasts of talent such as the director Harry and characterssuch as Snipes and Hopper, it is a huge let down to audiences becauseit did not accomplish what it suggested to offer in its initialscenes. Hence, while the movie had some of violence and otherfeatures associated with action thrillers, it did not have enough ofthem to convince the audience of this genre. The intelligent approachthat the director chose to adopt in creating this movie onlycontributed to slowing the action of the film as opposed to spurringit to the levels that trigger adrenaline in viewer’s emotions andmind. Therefore, I would only recommend this movie to crime filmlovers with a reservation because it might not meet the expectationthat one desires a crime film to deliver.
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