Sunday, October 17, 2010

Does Val Kilmer Ever Appear in a Bad Movie?

I saw two Val Kilmer films over the weekend: The Saint (remake of the 1960s TV series with Roger Moore), and Spartan.  In both cases, I was again pleased at how versatile an actor he is.  I first saw him (or at least, noticed him) in Top Secret (1984), an hilarious, often crude comedy, where he plays an Elvis-like singer on a cultural tour of East Germany in a vaguely 1950s or 1960s (with some anachronisms) period.  He was riotously funny. 

"How did you get your name, Nick?" 

"It came to my father while he was shaving." 

You may recall him as "Iceman" in Top Gun (not a great movie, but not a terribly bad one, and he wasn't the star, either). 

In The Saint (1997), he plays an international thief for hire--but one with a conscience, apparently much to his surprise.  It's a fun film, full of implausible escapes, bad Russian mafia, political intrigue, and Elizabeth Shue, playing the knockout beautiful American electrochemist who has solved the cold fusion problem.  It's fluffy entertainment, and Val Kilmer is just perfect at it.

Spartan (2004), on the other hand, is a very dark story of political intrigue, double crosses, and monstrous creeps in the international sex slave trade.  Kilmer plays a hard bitten, doesn't play by the rules Marine who gets involved in one of those circles within circles, continuing surprises stories where you never know what is going to happen next.  And Kilmer again demonstrates his ability to play a part completely unlike any other.

I have not seen The Doors, but my wife has, and says he is spectacular as Jim Morrison in that as well.

There are some actors that just don't get the credit that they deserve--and Val Kilmer is one of them.

8 comments:

djmooretx said...

He also appeared in one of my favorite pieces of fluff, Real Genius, where he proved that geeks can be cool.

BTW, speaking of cool geeks, you might be interested in Eric S. Raymond's positive take on RED. Review is slightly spoilerish, but not much more is spilled than what you might see in a trailer.

Kitchen said...

In answer to your title, imo, only one! (The Island of Dr Moreau). I think my favourites have to be Thunderheart and Salton Sea. If you haven't seen these, do! And for great humour, try Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where he plays along side Robert Downey Jr and it is a laugh a minute with a good story there too.

patrokov said...

I second Island of Dr Moreau as terrible. You should watch Willow, although you'll either love it or hate it. In the 90s, the top (real) male actors were Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, and Val Kilmer. Of those, only Bruce remains.

patrokov said...

I second Island of Dr Moreau as terrible. You should watch Willow, although you'll either love it or hate it. In the 90s, the top (real) male actors were Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, and Val Kilmer. Of those, only Bruce remains.

Steve said...

As of late, his movies have been direct to video global warming scare films.

Eris said...

I thought you were being ironic.

The Doors, even if Kilmer is great, was a terrible movie. Two of us from a group walked out with about 20 minutes to go. Red Planet was simply awful. The Ghost and the Darkness, boring. Willow and Dr Moreau, awful; Willow especially so.

Of all of Kilmer's films, I'd recommend only Real Genius.

Alan said...

I haven't seen The Doors, but from what people have told me about it, I'd say it took real genius to exaggerate Jim Morrison's self-destructiveness.

Bill Mullins said...

Kilmer is abolutely stunning as Doc Holliday in "Tombstone" -- one of the best performances I've ever seen in a movie.

He's also pretty good in a lesser, supporting role in "Deja Vu" (a rare movie in which a person with Christian beliefs is simply observed, and not ridiculed). And quite good in "Heat" as well.