Black Rain Ridley Scott

It’s hard to believe how fast Ridley Scott could burn up the capital he earned from Alien and Blade Runner but the proof is in this wan 1989 policier and its pseudo-international twist. Michael Douglas plays a cop in hot water for skimming off the top of seized drug money. When he and partner Andy Garcia witness a yakuza murder on a stakeout, the pair are sent to Japan to return a notorious killer. Of course, they lose him at the airport and of course, they scheme to get him back, meaning there’s a pursuit through soundstage Osaka where they learn the meaning of Japanese concepts like "honour” and "duty.” You’d think that Scott would be the man to shoot the neon streets of urban Japan, especially as he drew on their look for Blade Runner, but there’s nothing here that rings true as either drama or anthropology. Not only are we set up for a tired Western individual/Eastern groupthink duel (which is better executed in many Japanese movies) but the script is full of obvious Syd Field setups that pay off far too obviously. Scott pours on the unmotivated chiaroscuro and other neo-noir trappings but there’s no denying that the attention to design from his early triumphs has been lost in unconvincing performances and a cookie-cutter script. Though Garcia exudes nice insouciant attitude, it’s hard to watch his embarrassing karaoke to "What’d I Say.” And while Asia Extreme fans may want to know that Japanese idol Takakura Ken appears, they’ll also want to know that he’s so wasted that it’s hard to justify his showing up. (Paramount)