I was expecting a stereotypical action movie chock full of cheesy one-liners. Not quite what I got. There were one or two cheesy one-liners, such as “cleanup on aisle 3.” However, for the most part, I’d say Stone Cold holds its own in the entertainment category. Serving as the acting debut for former NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, I’d say the film served as a solid opening to an on-and-off acting career. In this showing, Bosworth stars as a cop with a reputation for excessive force and maverick-like methods for getting the job done. After his latest stunt lands him a three-week suspension, he finds himself at the mercy of the FBI, who want to use him for a undercover operation, which many others would consider a suicide mission. Rounding out the cast are William Forsythe of Sam McMurray, Richard Gant, and Lance Henriksen serving as the film’s big bad. For a 30-year-old movie, I’d say that the film held up well in regards to action and dialog.
Bosworth is Joe Huff, an Alabama cop frustrated with the kid-glove approach taken with criminals, an approach that he is not known for implementing himself, hence his most recent incident involving a group of robbers and his hands-on approach to detaining that his superiors deem excessive force. To my mind, this did not meet the criteria of excessive force; the men were armed and threatening patrons. Huff didn’t shoot anyone, and to my viewing, everyone he dispatched survived, albeit likely with serious injuries. Either way, Huff is placed on suspension and almost immediately summoned by the FBI, who threaten to turn his three-week suspension into a six-month one without pay unless he undertakes a task for them. Nothing like good old-fashioned legal blackmail.
The task is going to Mississippi and infiltrating an outlaw biker gang linked to he murders of several prominent and governmental figures, led by Chains Cooper (Henriksen), a ruthless and violent psychopath. Already looking the part and given his proficiency with criminal biker arrests, Huff is dubbed the perfect candidate for the undercover operation. He becomes John Stone. However, infiltrating is not easy, as Chains as well as his right hand man, Ice Hensley (Forsythe), maintain suspicions about him and put him through a series of test to prove himself. This was portion was intriguing, as the tests start off subtle and become extreme, which goes to raise the stakes of Stone’s situation. This gave the film suspense, as I watched to see how Stone would accomplish these tasks, all while not compromising the case or jeopardizing his cover. It also put obstacles for Stone to circumvent as he initially attempted a direct approach to getting with the group, which resulted in a mixed reception for him amongst the gang. While some embraced him, others grew more suspicious. This was needed to keep things interesting, which it does. It wasn’t enough to put me on the edge of my seat, but it was enough to maintain my interest in the events that were transpiring.
While interesting and entertaining, the film is not immune to becoming predictable in some areas. There is a certain formula to movies like this, and while the circumstances may deviate slightly, for the most part films like this are faithful to it. Such as, there is always a suspicious party that never fully trusts the protagonist and goes out of their way to expose them, usually resulting in a high-pressure situation for the hero. As expected, there is one such situation here. That doesn’t mean that it was without its deviation, as this film appears to double down on that idea, resulting in multiple high-tension moments in which Bosworth has to keep his cool or risk death. Additionally, there is always something or someone that causes the lines to blur for the hero. It can either be a love interest or perhaps the protagonist forms a connection with the target, making it harder to be the architect of the person’s downfall. I won’t spoil which situation occurred here, but just one of the two does occur.
Then there is the final component of the formula: somehow, someway the bad guys have to learn the hero’s true identify, which lands him in hot water and in a potentially life-threatening situation that he must escape from in order to foil the antagonist’s ultimate plan. These are necessities in a film of this type, particularly this final piece, and it can make or break a film. In the case of Stone Cold, I’d say it made the film, as it bucked a traditional standard of “the hero saves the day, finds love, etc.” Truth be told, Stone didn’t have much to show for his undercover operation. He kind of ended up right back where he started, which I was not expecting. So for that I give the film points for bucking a stereotypical ending.