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BLACK DOG

SYNOPSIS:
Jack Crews (Patrick Swayze) is an expert trucker who was jailed following his involvement in a fatal accident. When he gets out of prison he loses his license and is forced to quit driving for good. That's before the bank forecloses on the home he shares with his wife (Brenda Strong) and young daughter (Erin Broderick). Reluctantly, he decides to run one more rig 'off the books' from Atlanta to New Jersey, not realising that he's carrying a shipment of illegal guns, and that both the FBI and a gang of doublecrossing smugglers are chasing after him. Caught in a life or death struggle on the road, Jack must face his personal demons if he's to survive. 

"Even for a routine action film, the script of Black Dog is unusually sketchy, on the level of an average straight-to-video release. It’s weird, though, how these days even the dumbest movies strive for clever ‘self-reflexive’ wit. Thus Randy Travis plays a character who writes terrible country and western songs (the irony!) and a bad guy takes time out to philosophise about TV sitcoms. One of the FBI agents pursuing Patrick Swayze is a sissy figure who speaks in pop psychology cliches: when an irascible colleague blows his top, this fey buffoon starts to gibber that he’s ‘sensing some masculinity issues.’ Swayze’s own masculinity is fortunately beyond dispute. An old-fashioned strong silent type who smiles patronisingly at the other characters while he does what a man’s gotta do, he’s as stiffly noble as the late Roy Rogers. Director Kevin Hooks is no virtuoso either: despite the folksy, fairly laidback tenor of the script, he works overtime to pump phony excitement into each scene, whooshing the camera round as though he’s making some frantic TV cop show. There’s also extensive and graceless use of slow motion (another straight-to-video trademark). Despite all this, the film is inoffensive: it has pretty good stuntwork, a couple of funny moments, some pleasingly corny sentiment, and a few sidelights on the modern mythos of the long distance trucker – with an unobtrusive touch of the supernatural. If exploding trucks are what you’re looking for, it’s probably enough."
Jake Wilson

"Ah yes, it is, a dog's life being a film critic, seeing all those masterpieces emanating from what used to be known as the dream factory. Then of course one has to suffer through films such as this, a film that should never have gotten off the ground, a truckie movie 20 years too late that presumably itself,. Must have fallen off the back of a truck. It's infuriating to know that between $30-40 million would have been spent bringing this piece of cinematic bile to a theatre near you. It's all here: Trucks exploding, trucks crashing AND exploding, bullets flying, and a leading actor with as much screen presence as a paper doll. With a script that was written on the fly, and the inept direction to boot, Black Dog is the kind of movie Hollywood ought to be ashamed of. It's a case of amateur hour and cliché time, as this film does it all in excess without a trail of originality, and for an action film, it's lifeless. The fault, however, lay with Swayze, an actor who has the emotional range of a pin, and as much expression in that steely face. His performance matches his thinly created character, and one can only wonder why the likes of Charles S. Dutton, a talented actor, is doing in this mess of a film; presumably, money talks. Even when it was fashionable two decades ago, the truckie genre was a bore, and failed to garner much interest. Why on earth it has come back is one of those eternal mysteries better left unanswered. This is, undoubtedly, a dog of a movie, and as for Swayze - he really ought to give up his day job."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1
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BLACK DOG (M)
(US)

CAST: Patrick Swayze, Randy Travis, Meat Loaf

DIRECTOR: Kevin Hooks

PRODUCER: Raffaella De Laurentiis

SCRIPT: Leslie Bohem, William Mickleberry, Dan Vining

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Buzz Feitshans IV

EDITOR: Debra Neil-Fisher, Sabrina Plisco-Morris

MUSIC: George S. Clinton

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Victoria Paul

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: REP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 30, 1998







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