Mickey Rourke has had an interesting career. He was an A-list actor in the ‘80s, doing movies like 9 ½ Weeks, Angel Heart, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Rumble Fish, and Diner. He had a reputation as being difficult, and was soon doing less acting and more fighting (both in and out of the boxing ring). He then did some movies that went straight to video.
Rourke had a comeback after an interesting role in Sin City followed by an Oscar nominated performance in The Wrestler. That led to him playing a villain in Iron Man 2. Now we get Java Heat, which sounds and feels a bit like another straight-to-video film (or a chain of coffee shops).
Much like the villain Rourke played in Iron Man 2, he has an accent. I believe it’s French, but he mangles it so bad, it’s hard to tell. Also similar to that villain, he has a fondness for birds. I think writer/director/producer Conor Allyn was going for a Colonel Kurtz vibe (Brando in Apocalypse Now).
This action adventure is lead by Kellan Lutz (from the Twilight films). He’s a more muscular, less talented Channing Tatum. He has some surprisingly good chemistry with Ario Bayu, a local Indonesian cop (the second half becomes more of a buddy cop picture). And a few of the jokes actually work, too.
Basically, an American cop (or high ranking Marine, I was never really clear) goes to Indonesia to hunt down a terrorist. They give mentions to Al-Qaeda and bin Laden, and there are assumptions by Lutz that everyone he meets is Muslim. This gives Bayu a chance to correct him and lecture on the importance of listening and not always wanting to shoot first and ask questions later. You know how these genre pictures go.
These types of movies always have flaws in logic. I was wondering why this American agent didn’t have a better back-story. He shouldn’t be found out simply because a person Googled him.
When he goes to a high end club that deals in drugs and prostitution – since he’s looking for women with a certain tiger branding on her back – why would he take a drink from somebody he barely knows? Those are a few of the many situations that’ll have you scratching your head.
Unfortunately, the fans of action pictures will be a bit disappointed that there isn’t more. Moviegoers that like a better narrative will be disappointed there wasn’t more…time devoted to writing stronger material.
One great thing about this movie is that when I started thinking about Rourke’s old movies, Rumble Fish came to mind. That got me thinking about the great Stan Ridgway song from that movie called Don’t Box Me In. I remembered one of the times seeing Ridgway in concert, and he told a story about being at a party up in the Hollywood Hills. His wife (and keyboardist) Pietra Wexstun got into some disagreement with Rourke’s date. Ridgway was waiting to use the bathroom, but went over to see what the commotion was about. That led to Rourke and Ridgway almost coming to blows. And even though Rourke was a horrible boxer, I’m guessing he would’ve sent that harmonica down Ridgway’s throat.
I got home and pulled out a few of my Ridgway albums. One of those albums, the most underrated of the ‘80s, has a similar title to this movie – The Big Heat.
So, I’m giving 5 stars to the album The Big Heat, a record that came out when Rourke was on top.
I’m giving 2 stars to the movie Java Heat.
One you can see at the Reading Gaslamp Cinemas. The other you can buy at StanRidgway.com.