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Quicksilver (1986)

Image Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/6/2013

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Extras: No Extras

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/27/2013

Of all of the decades in recent history, the 1980s seems to be the one which receives the most dislike. While it can easily be argued that many bad things happened in the 1960s and the 1970s, it's the 80s that many would just as soon forget. Well, as someone who lived through the 80s, I can say that I liked that era and enjoyed many facets of it. However, there was one thing about the time that I didn't like -- Hollywood went through a phase where movies offered two things; a radio-ready soundtrack and a gimmick instead of a plot. These films would fixate on one thing -- break dancing, for example -- and then try to build a movie around it. Quicksilver is a great representative of this kind of film.

As Quicksilver opens, we meet Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon), a stock market wizard who likes to take chances. However, when he gambles and blows a big deal, he decides to leave the business and become a bike messenger. Jack loves the freedom and tooling around town on his bike and he enjoys the camaraderie of his fellow workers. But, one rider, Voodoo (Larry Fishburne), likes to take chances himself by delivering illegal goods -- an activity which gets him killed. Jack witnesses this murder and can’t decide if he should tell the authorities or handle things himself. Meanwhile, Jack helps out newbie Terri (Jami Gertz) and realizes that he finds her attractive, despite the fact that he lives with a ballet dancer (Whitney Kershaw).

While watching Quicksilver, I got the distinct feeling that one day Writer/Director Tom Donnelly was in someplace like Manhattan and saw a bike messenger and thought, “I should make a movie about them.” Of course, someone else would have said, “What else would it be about?”, to which Donnelly apparently replied, “Everything.” Yes, it’s rare that you’ll find a film which is all over the place as Quicksilver. If the movie were made today, it could be released as a series of 10-minute webisodes, as the movie is very episodic and picks a new topic with seemingly every scene -- Jack is a stockbroker, Jack rides a bike, Jack talks to his co-workers, Voodoo is killed, Jack helps Hector (Paul Rodriguez) fill out a loan application (?!), Jack flirts with Terri, etc.

The movie wants to be a drama about a man whose life suddenly wasn’t going as he planned and was forced to re-discover himself, a workplace comedy (as comedians Rodriguez and Louie Anderson work at the messenger service), a romance, and an action-thriller. The problem is that the movie never commits to any of these things, so it fails on every front. We never learn why Jack chose to become a bike messenger, save for the opening scene in which he has a cab race a man on a bike. Did this interaction inspire him? Who knows? Someone who knows finance could have moved into any number of professions? We get the idea that Jack and Rand have different ideas about status and society, but we don’t get much information on their relationship. The weirdest part is the ending where Jack suddenly decides to take on Voodoo’s killer and we are treated to a car vs. bike chase scene. This comes out of nowhere and we are left to wonder why the police were never called.

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, Quicksilver has to go out of its way to prove that it’s a movie from the 80s in two ludicrous scenes. It’s up to the individual viewer to choose which one is worse, as they are both very bad. In the first, Rand is rehearsing her ballet, so Jack decides to join her...by dancing on his bike. Bacon had already proved in Footloose that he could dance, but this scene is ridiculous. The other scene is a musical montage in which people perform tricks on 10 speed bikes, emulating BMX bike tricks, but in a much lamer fashion. Not only does this bring the movie to a screeching halt, it simply isn’t impressive.

Sometimes you can’t blame something for being a product of its era, but plenty of good movies where made in the mid-80s, so Quicksilver doesn’t have an excuse for being poorly written and insanely assembled. Today, the movie plays as a curiosity piece given the cast of familiar faces (I’d completely forgotten that Laurence Fishburne was in this!), and it’s great to see Bacon do his combination cool but serious. It’s also interesting to hear the song “Quicksilver Lightning” by Roger Daltrey which was decidedly not a hit. Quicksilver can only be recommended to Kevin Bacon completists and those who love bike messengers.

Quicksilver also never tells us how Jack had the stamina to ride a bike like that on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Image Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is fairly sharp and clear, but it does show some mild grain and a few very minor defects from the source material. I hope it makes sense when I say that this looks like a somewhat obscure, 27-year old movie. The colors are OK, but the image is a bit dark. The level of detail is good, but the image is decidedly flat at times. This is definitely a step up form VHS or DVD, but it doesn’t look perfect. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Despite being a stereo track, the bulk of the sound comes from the center channel and we don’t get many detailed stereo effects, save for a few times when the action will move to the right or left of the screen and the corresponding speaker delivers the sound.

The Quicksilver Blu-ray Disc does not contain any special features.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.