— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

JUDGEMENT NIGHT (1993) Dir. Stephen Hopkins. Written by Lewis Colick based on a Story by Jere Cunningham. Starring: Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff, Jeremy Piven, Denis Leary, and Peter Greene.

A group of middle-class dudes out for a night on the town end up fighting for their lives in the inner city when their party RV breaks down and they witness Denis Leary murder a body. There's no more plot than that which is perhaps why the subtext is so apparent, well the attempt at subtext. I mean, Denis Leary's verbose villain's entire raison d'etere for continuing to hunt these men throughout the night seems less and less about their witnessing of the murder as the film goes on and more and more about his utter distaste for their safe bourgeois lives. Now, not many genre films wear their subtext on their sleeves and the ones that do tend to be the bad ones, but this isn't the case with Judgement Night which screams its half-baked subtext from the top of its lungs and still manages to be entertaining as hell. An ensemble cast of good guys pitted against a smaller but no less game ensemble cast of baddies give us a B movie we've seen more than once, but makes it all feel fresh. Ultimately it's the performances that elevate it, and surprise, surprise the soundtrack. In fact, if you're of a certain age you might remember Judgement Night's soundtrack more than the film itself. It was one of those nineties staples that everyone seemed to have in their collection at the time, right alongside The Crow and Natural Born Killers. While there were no real singles to speak of it had an interesting idea behind it that the others did not; each track combined a Rock band with a Rap Group that despite assumptions resulted in some killer tracks. At first listen, this experiment would seem to be little more than a music execs clever idea and have nothing to do with the film other than providing something hip to play under action scenes, but not so here. The soundtrack is actually a perfect companion to and illustration of the film's subtext depicting in every track pairing the central dichotomy of aggression in the film; rich and poor, urban and suburban. The subtext is ultimately so ingrained in the film's story, dialogue, and soundtrack that my only complaint about this forgotten thriller is that the ending gives us no final commentary on this obvious cat in the brain for the writer.   




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