Johnny Handsome is a horrible-looking guy with only one friend, known during a bad period in prison.
When he asks him for help with a robbery, he can’t refuse and arrange the heist with shady accomplices.
The heist succeeds and the gang manages to steal a big batch of jewelry. But, at the last moment, two of them betray and kill the others, running away with the loot.
Ultimately his friend dies and Johnny ends up in prison. After refusing to deal with the police and revealing the accomplices’ names, he takes a long sentence.
Once inside, the traitors pay two prisoners to stab him, who ends up in hospital seriously injured.
Miraculously, however, he doesn’t die, and thanks to a young and progressive doctor, he gets an incredible chance.
Thanks to a new experimental surgery, they can fix the monstrous aspect he suffered all his life. Out on parole, with a new face and identity, Johnny will look for the traitors to avenge his old friend.
Johnny Handsome is a perfect revenge and redemption’s story with unbeatable atmospheres and superb protagonists.
The mood is always between noir and metropolitan western, with dirty and filthy locations populated by violent characters without morals.
Mickey Rourke interprets in an absolute way, turning from a fearful criminal into a fascinating and mysterious urban hero.
His transformation is full of pain and skepticism, until reaching pure wonder when seeing his new face in the mirror.
Initially, he takes the opportunity to start from scratch with a new job and romance with a beautiful colleague. But soon, the guilt and anger inevitably drive him back to being a criminal.
Morgan Freeman is the cynical cop who follows his every move and is phenomenal in one of his career’s best roles.
Unable to believe that the boy can change, he continually mocks doctors who have so much faith, considering them naive fools.
Forest Whitaker, as the doctors’ leader, reciprocates his detestable feeling in turn.
Indeed, he wants to give a second chance’ to what he considers simply an unfortunate boy to whom life has left no choice.
However, the two evil lovers also can’t stand each other and are only together for convenience, ready to betray the partner on the first occasion.
Johnny will use this anger to divide them, offering them a rich heist they will not know how to refuse.
Walter Hill directs another essential piece of his rich filmography.
After the funny Red Heat with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the director changes tone making his most gloomy and pessimistic movie.
He decides to destroy the main’s actor sex symbol image and rebuild it from scratch, shaping it into a new cinema icon.
The result was a box office resounding flop, perhaps because of a story too hard to accept for the public at the time.
I consider it a movie out of its time, confirming all its strength today despite being released in 1989.
Johnny Handsome has exceptional and credible characters, along with the elegant direction, traditional and accurate in every detail.
The story has an unstoppable rhythm, alternating contemplation and action as much the life’s hate and love in an inimitable way.
So I absolutely must recommend it to all the 80s action movies’ lovers and, of course, to Mickey Rourke‘s fans, who reach here one of his actor’s peaks.