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Tough Guys (1987)  rating

Review: written 2007

Legendary actors in shallow movie

It's a treat seeing Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas bring their effortless charm and charisma to the big screen once again, but unfortunately this movie is too self aware of their legendary status.

The joke here, is that they have been in prison for 30 years for robbing a train, and are now let out to be bewildered by the modern world. Alas, when this film was made, the modern world was 1980, which almost seems stranger now than the 50's that our heroes are nostalgic for. The 80's excess has rarely been more exaggerated in a movie, from annoying electronic soundtrack to the worst of 80's hairdo's and plastic clothes.

It's intermittently good fun, truth be told, as they attempt to retain their dignity in the face of various homes, jobs and situations. Alas, it is only at the end the movie gains a sense of purpose as they decide to rob the Flyer one more time - the job that got them in jail in the first place. In the meantime, their tough guy status might better be described as `invulnerable guys', as they foil a bank robbery, single handedly defeat a 12 strong street gang, survive all night sex with young infatuated aerobics instructors (was that last one inserted in the script by the actors one wonders..?) and evade aging hitmen.

Extended supporting roles from Eli Wallach, Charles Durning and a young Dana Carvey add little to the movie but padding - it's Douglas and Lancaster that (nearly?) make this movie worth watching. The movie itself however, rarely finds a narrative to give it the momentum it so badly needs.

Nostalgic treat on one hand to see the actors, but also a sad reminder of how shallow 80's cinema could be.

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