Lightning Jack
HBO // PG-13 // $14.98 // November 28, 2000
Review by Brian R. Boisvert | posted November 15, 2000
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Graphical Version
The Movie:
LIGHTNING JACK (1994) is a comedy/western starring CROCODILE DUNDEE's Paul Hogan (who also wrote and co-produced). Hogan plays the title character, a publicity-hungry gunslinger who looses his gang after a bank robbery goes bad. Failing his first solo robbery attempt, he takes a hostage who eventually becomes his partner -- a mute named Ben Doyle (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). Jack wants to pull just one more big bank job, to prove that he isn't washed up and impress his friends back in Australia with newspaper clippings that describe him as a notorious outlaw.

Although it tries hard, this isn't a very good movie. The meandering, derivative plot isn't particularly interesting or funny. At its best moments, LIGHTNING JACK occasionally rises to the level of mildly amusing. You may crack a smile or two over the course of the story, but it makes for an otherwise boring 90 minutes. The performers try to give it their best, but are either underdeveloped (Beverly D'Angelo's saloon prostitute) or given far too much screen time (Hogan). The film looks great and has a fantastic cast, but the dull and rambling script gives these one-dimensional characters nothing interesting to do. Ultimately this movie is a lifeless dud.

The Picture:
This is a decent-looking video transfer, using a good quality print that is free from scratches or grain. The film has a muted palette with no color bleeding. There is some shimmering evident in background details, but not enough to become distracting. The movie is given a widescreen (2.35:1) presentation, but is unfortunately not enhanced for 16x9 televisions.

The Sound:
The 2.0 surround soundtrack is surprisingly crisp and enveloping. It makes good use of a very wide front soundstage with the mono surrounds used effectively for occasional ambient effects and music.

Special Features:
There are a few extras on this DVD, although nothing to get too excited about. Aside from the usual cast/crew biographies, there is the widescreen theatrical trailer and 2 TV spots. A short promotional featurette is also provided. Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.

Final Thoughts:
If you have already seen LIGHTNING JACK and are considering a purchase, there is nothing about this DVD that should scare you off -- it has acceptable (although not fantastic) picture quality and very good sound. However, I have trouble recommending this film to anyone else, even as a rental. As a western, it's clichéd and derivative; as a comedy, it's simply unfunny.



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