The cliché is nobody tries to make a bad movie. I’m not so sure about that. Some movies run off the rails so completely it’s hard to believe they weren’t sabotaged by the ineptness of the direction, acting, script, cinematography and concept from the get-go.
Not every movie on this list is a bad movie. Some are merely so fatally flawed that they are only partly successful. However, even an otherwise doomed film can offer up a memorable scene or performance. Of course, this isn’t meant to be in any way a comprehensive listing either. It’s only a few movies that offered something that stayed in my mind long after I had forgotten everything else.
Sherlock Holmes (2009) Directed by Guy Ritchie: My daughter had to see Sherlock Holmes for a homework assignment so the family went along. She and I took turns falling asleep on each other’s shoulder. This was one of the only scenes that I enjoyed. Ritchie must have too because he used it a few times in the film.
Swordfish (2001) Directed by Dominic Sena: Take John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Sam Shepard and put them in a mess of a movie that tries to clever, hip and tongue in cheek, but is just an expensive, lethargic mess lazily misdirected by Sena. This crapfest is best remembered for another scenery-swallowing performance by Travolta, Jackman sleepwalking as the world’s best-looking and least convincing computer hacker who doesn’t even perk up at the sight of Halle showing her berries. Yep, Halle gets naked and it still doesn’t enliven the proceedings. But then, there’s this scene which absolutely kicks major ass. Unfortunately, it’s within the first ten minutes and you still have another 89 minutes of Swordfish to get through.
Ronin (1998) Directed by John Frankenheimer: This isn’t so much a bad movie as a muddled one. According to imdb.com, David Mamet was brought in as a script doctor and that’s not something a movie with a clear story needs. As is, this convoluted tale of mercenaries, betrayals and red herrings is worth watching, but the only thing I can actually remember is this eye-popping auto chase which is a highlight in Frankenheimer’s impressive, but occasionally erratic career as a director.
Shoot ’em Up (2007) Directed by Michael Davis: Here’s an example that must have looked like a lot of fun when it was conceived in pre-production meetings and that’s probably where they left it because what’s left on-screen is a lot of nothing. Clive Owen’s carrot-chomping Smith knows his Gun-Fu and Paul Giamatti all but cackle and twirls his black mustache to show how eeeeeeeevil he is. I can’t figure out why this movie leaves me so cold. Even the glorious Monica Bellucci is wasted in this noisy bomb. Maybe I should give this one a second viewing to decide if my first impression is wrong.
Full Metal Jacket (1987) Directed by Stanley Kubrick: This is half of a good movie and the half with the sadistic Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann (R. Lee Ermey) breaking down the pathetic Pvt. Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) is terrific with Ermey giving an award-worthy performance. The second half of the film where Kubrick moves the story to Vietnam is flat and boring as the wimpy shoulders of the charmless Matthew Modine’s Pvt. Joker can’t carry the movie to the finish line. Ermey was initially hired as a technical adviser, but asked Kubrick for a chance to play the driven drill instructor. He not only nailed the role, he ad-libbed over 50 percent of his own dialogue. His terrifyingly real performance is as close as any civilian can get to experiencing what it’s like to have a D.I. turning the air blue as he calls you everything but a child of God.
Stealth (2005) Directed by Rob Cohen: Now this is a terrible movie. Cohen churns out brainless action fare like The Fast and the Furious and xXx, and he specializes in money shots. I could have found footage from either of those two movies, but I got to give him some props: The man does know how to make stuff blow up real good.