LEADING LADIES: Linda Hamilton

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linda hamilton the terminator

Linda Hamilton in probably her most famous role, as Sarah Connor in THE TERMINATOR (1984).

Welcome back to LEADING LADIES, the column where we look at leading ladies in the movies, especially horror movies.

Today on LEADING LADIES we look at the career of Linda Hamilton, who helped define 1980s cinema with her signature performance as Sarah Connor in THE TERMINATOR (1984).

In addition to her iconic portrayal of Sarah Connor in the TERMINATOR movies, Hamilton is also known for her role as Catherine Chandler on the TV series BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987-89).  Linda Hamilton has always been a favorite of mine, in spite of appearing in one of the worst monster movies ever made, KING KONG LIVES (1986)— by far the worst King Kong movie ever made.

Hamilton has 75 screen credits to date, and she’s still actively making movies today. Here’s a partial look at her career so far:

NIGHT-FLOWERS (1979) – Wafer – Hamilton’s film debut in a movie about rape and murder at the hands of two disturbed Vietnam vets.

RAPE AND MARRIAGE:  THE RIDEOUT CASE (1980) – Greta Rideout – Hamilton has the lead role in this TV movie based on the true story of Greta Rideout (Hamilton), an abused wife who was constantly raped by her husband John (Mickey Rourke).  The movie tells the story of how she fought back and charged him with rape, even though they were married.  Written by Hesper Anderson, who would go on to earn an Oscar nomination for her co-written screenplay for CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD (1986) .

TAG:  THE ASSASSINATION GAME (1982) – Susan Swayze –  once again playing the lead, this time co-starring with Robert Carradine in a tale about a college assassination game turning deadly as it becomes the real thing.  Written and directed by Nick Castle, most famous for playing Michael Myers in the original HALLOWEEN (1978).

SECRETS OF A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER (1983) – Susan Decker – TV movie drama about a mother and daughter involved with the same man.  Katharine Ross plays the mother, Linda Hamilton the daughter, and Michael Nouri the man.

HILL STREET BLUES (1984) – Sandy Valpariso – recurring guest spot role on four episodes of Season 4 of the critically acclaimed TV show HILL STREET BLUES.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984) – Vicky – big screen adaptation of the Stephen King short story was the first time I saw Linda Hamilton in a movie, and all I can say is I’m glad she made THE TERMINATOR that same year, because I did not like CHILDREN OF THE CORN at all and would have quickly forgotten Hamilton if not for her performance in THE TERMINATOR.  In spite of the source material, CHILDREN OF THE CORN is a pretty awful horror movie.

THE TERMINATOR (1984) – Sarah Connor – the movie that put Linda Hamilton on the map, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron.  Iconic movie, one of the most memorable from the 1980s, so much so that in terms of movies, it arguably defines the decade.  The movie that propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger to superstardom, and gave him his signature line, “I’ll be back.”  Also director James Cameron’s first hit, coming before ALIENS (1986) and long before TITANIC (1997).

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A girl and her dog.  Linda Hamilton and a canine friend in THE TERMINATOR.

Hamilton plays Sarah Connor, the target of Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, who’d been sent back in time to kill her, since she gives birth to the man responsible for leading the resistance against the machines in the future, and so the machines decide that if they kill his mother, he’ll never exist.  Of course, you’d think it would just be easier to kill him. Pure fluff, but masterfully done, and Hamilton is excellent as the unlikely heroine, a young woman who sees herself as a failure, then victim, and ultimately rises up as the savior of the human race.  By far, my favorite Linda Hamilton performance.

SECRET WEAPONS (1985) – Elena Koslov/Joanna – TV movie where Hamilton plays a Russian spy.  Directed by Don Taylor, who during his long prolific career directed several notable genre films in the 1970s, including ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971), THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1977), and DAMIEN:  OMEN II (1978).

BLACK MOON RISING (1986) – Nina – Hamilton plays a car thief in this tale of thieves, FBI agents, and a super car, the “Black Moon.”  Co-starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Vaughn.  Story by John Carpenter, who also co-wrote the screenplay.

KING KONG LIVES (1986) – Amy Franklin –  If there’s one movie that Linda Hamilton should not have made, it’s probably this one.  Why in the world would director John Guillermin, whose career was nearly destroyed by his first Kong venture KING KONG (1976) ever agree to make a sequel ten years later?  Bad move, John!  This horrible sequel has gone down in film history as the worst Kong movie ever. And whereas the 1976 KING KONG has aged well and has gained more respect over the decades, the same can’t be said for this awful sequel.  It’s still as bad as it ever was.

GO TOWARD THE LIGHT (1988) – Claire Madison – TV movie about a young couple caring for their child who has been diagnosed with AIDS.  Co-starring Richard Thomas.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987-89) – Assistant District Attorney Catherine Chandler- Hamilton’s second most famous role, after Sarah Connor in THE TERMINATOR, this modern-day update of the Beauty and the Beast tale featured Ron Perlman as the beast and Hamilton as the beauty, an assistant district attorney in New York City.

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Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman in the TV show BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

MR. DESTINY (1990) -Ellen Burrows – Comedy fantasy starring James Belushi and Michael Caine.

TERMINATOR 2:  JUDGMENT DAY (1991) – Sarah Connor- Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor in this big budget sequel to THE TERMINATOR which featured some of the most cutting edge special effects of its day.  This time around Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is a lean mean fighting machine, while Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is warm and fuzzy.  Yup, in this sequel, Arnold plays a  “good” Terminator, helping the humans fight off an even more advanced and dangerous Terminator from the future.  Once again written and directed by James Cameron.

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A leaner, meaner Linda Hamilton in TERMINATOR 2:  JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

SILENT FALL (1994) – Karen Rainer – co-stars with Richard Dreyfuss and John Lithgow in this thriller about an Autistic boy who witnesses his parents’ double murder.

A MOTHER’S PRAYER (1995) – Rosemary Holmstrom – TV movie about a woman (Linda Hamilton) diagnosed with AIDS trying to raise her son as a single mother with the knowledge that she won’t be around for long.  Also starring Bruce Dern and Kate Nelligan.

DANTE’S PEAK (1997) – Rachel Wando – disaster movie about an erupting volcano.  With Pierce Brosnan.

RESCUERS:  STORIES OF COURAGE:  TWO COUPLES (1998) – Marie Taquet- TV movie about citizens rescuing Holocaust victims.

THE COLOR OF COURAGE (1998) – Anna Sipes – based on a true story, the movie chronicles the relationship between a white woman and a black woman.

BATMAN BEYOND:  THE MOVIE (1999) – Dr. Stephanie Lake – lends her voice to this animated Batman film.

SILENT NIGHT (2002) – Elisabeth Vincken- TV movie about a German mother (Hamilton) and her son on Christmas Eve in 1944 who find themselves bringing German and American soldiers together for one night.  Based on a true story.

MISSING IN AMERICA (2005) – Kate – Drama about a Vietnam veteran (Danny Glover) suddenly having to raise Vietnamese girl.

CHUCK (2010-2012) – Mary Bartowski – appeared in 12 episodes of the TV series CHUCK.

A SUNDAY HORSE (2016) – Margret Walden – Hamilton’s most recent screen credit, a drama about a horse and its young female rider.

Starting from about the early 2000s, the lead roles became fewer for Linda Hamilton, and she appeared more often in supporting roles. And the lead roles she did take were often in films that didn’t have the same resonance as the movies from her earlier days.

But she’s still busily acting, and so there are still more Linda Hamilton movies to come. And I for one am happy about that.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the career of Linda Hamilton, the subject of today’s LEADING LADIES column.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brosnan Kicks Butt in THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014)

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November Man - posterStreaming Video Review:  THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014)

by

Michael Arruda

I wanted to see THE NOVEMBER MAN (2014) when it opened in theaters last year, but for some reason or other, I missed it.  Now that it’s available on Netlflix Streaming, I finally caught up with it.

THE NOVEMBER MAN is an action thriller starring Pierce Brosnan as a former CIA operative who’s lured back into one last job and finds himself, among other things, squaring off against his former protégé.

Peter Deveraux (Pierce Brosnan) is trying to enjoy his “retirement” from the CIA.  He owns a coffee shop in Switzerland, and life is good.  However, his old boss John Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) tracks him down and asks him to do one more job.  Hanley wants Deveraux to bring in a woman Natalia (Mediha Musliovic) from Russia whose life is in danger because she has information which will ruin the political career of the man who’s about to become president of Russia, Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski).  The Russians want her dead and have put one of their most dangerous assassins, a woman named Alexa (Amila Terzimehic), on her trail.  Deveraux can hardly say no to this assignment, as Natalia is the mother of his twelve year-old daughter.

So, Deveraux travels to Russia to extract Natalia, and all goes well, at first, but then a squadron of agents descend upon them and kill Natalia.  Deveraux retaliates and recognizes one of the attackers as David Mason (Luke Bracey), his protégé, and he realizes that this was a CIA hit, which contradicts the information given him by his old boss Hanley, that they wanted Natalia alive.

David’s current boss Perry Weinstein (Will Patton) wants to know why Deveraux was there, and fearing that his former agent will seek vengeance for Natalia’s death, he orders David to find Deveraux and kill him.

Deveraux meanwhile tracks down a young woman named Alice (Olga Kurylenko) who has information on a missing woman who holds the key to Federov’s downfall.  It’s this missing woman who Natalia knew about and is why the Russians wanted her dead.  Now they want Alice dead as well.  Deveraux vows to protect her, and together they set out to find the mystery woman, all the while remaining one step ahead of both the Russians and the CIA.  Deveraux also has a personal score to settle, as he wants to know why the CIA wanted Natalia killed, and he wants to get back at those responsible for her death.

While this may sound confusing, it really isn’t.  In spite of its twists and turns and political intrigue, the plot of THE NOVEMBER MAN is relatively easy to follow.

And since I understood this one from start to finish, I found myself really enjoying THE NOVEMBER MAN, as there was enough going on in the story to hold my interest, there were decent action scenes, and the cast more than held their own.

Pierce Brosnan leads the way as Peter Deveraux, the tough-as-nails CIA operative who earned the nickname “the November Man” because when he was through with a job, no one was left standing.  I dunno.  I can think of months with worse weather than November.  Anyway, Brosnan is excellent here.  I’ve always liked Brosnan as an actor, and as much as I liked him as James Bond, I’ve liked him better in other movies.  He almost always delivers the goods, and his performance here in THE NOVEMBER MAN is no exception.  He displays more range and emotion in the first twenty minutes of this movie than he does in any Bond film.  He’s also more bad-ass than Bond in this movie, and as such he’s completely convincing as a deadly CIA assassin.

Luke Bracey is less convincing as Deveraux’s protégé Mason.  He’s a pretty face and a muscular body, but he lacks Brosnan’s weathered toughness, and not once in this movie did I believe that Mason would actually best Deveraux.  I had to scratch my head when Mason’s boss Perry Weinstein (Will Patton) sends Mason in to kill Deveraux.  If Deveraux is as dangerous as they say he is, why send in a “baby” like Mason.  Isn’t there someone more seasoned?  Plus there’s the obvious emotional connection.  Mason can say all he wants about how he’ll get the job done, but the fact remains the two men were best friends.  It’s not the most convincing plot point.

Olga Kurylenko fares better as Alice, the woman who Brosnan spends most of the film trying to protect.  Kurylenko is terribly sexy, and as Alice she gets to do quite a lot in this movie, as she is much more than just a target that Brosnan has to guard.  She’s quite the effective heroine.  Kurylenko also made a big impression starring opposite Daniel Craig’s James Bond in QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) – she must like the James Bond types— and she was also good in a smaller role in the Tom Cruise science fiction film OBLIVION (2013).  She’s excellent here in THE NOVEMBER MAN.

Bill Smitrovich is also exceptional as Hanley, Deveraux’s former boss.  Smitrovich is a familiar face, and he’s been in lots of movies and TV shows, including IRON MAN (2008) and TED (2012).  I’ve liked Smitrovich in a lot of these roles, but his performance in this movie as Hanley might be my favorite.  He’s adept here at playing a two sided shadowy character, and he’s quite the bastard when he needs to be.

Amila Terzimehic looks impressive as Russian assassin Alexa, but she’s not in this movie a whole lot and as a result never becomes the villainous force she could have been.  Likewise, Will Patton, who I always enjoy, isn’t on screen very much either as the current CIA chief Perry Weinstein.  So, Patton’s impact is also limited.

THE NOVEMBER MAN was directed by Roger Donaldson, a veteran director who’s been making movies for decades.  He directed Pierce Brosnan previously in DANTE’S PEAK (1997) the very average adventure film about an erupting volcano.  THE NOVEMBER MAN is better than average.  It’s a nicely paced slick thriller with convincing action scenes, a couple of exciting chase scenes, and some effective fight sequences that don’t disappoint.

The screenplay by Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek based on the book There Are No Spies by Bill Granger has enough twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned spy movie fan satisfied, and it also boasts decent dialogue, especially for star Pierce Brosnan, who gets to chew up the scenery in some scenes.  Finch wrote the screenplay for PREDATORS (2010), the PREDATOR reboot/sequel that I liked a lot, while Gajdusek co-wrote OBLIVION (2013), the Tom Cruise science fiction film which also starred Olga Kurylenko.  I expected the screenplay for this one to be decent, and it was.

Sure, things become a bit far-fetched towards the end, and the plot does get somewhat convoluted, but it never reached the point where I flat out didn’t believe it, mostly because Brosnan remains convincing throughout.  He’s the glue which holds this movie together.

THE NOVEMBER MAN is a well-made actioner, solid throughout, and it’s led by an impressive Pierce Brosnan who turns in a gritty rugged performance.  The former James Bond can still kick some serious butt.

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