Color of Night (1994) / Thriller-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for strong sexuality, nudity, violence, and language
Running Time: 121 min.
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jane March, Ruben Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Scott Bakula, Brad Dourif, Lance Henriksen, Kevin J. O'Conner, Eriq La Salle
Director: Richard Rush
Screenplay: Matthew Chapman, Billy Ray
Review published June 8, 1998
I hope Bruce Willis (Hudson Hawk, Twelve Monkeys) made good use of the paycheck he received for starring in this derivative, nonsensical and abhorrently abominable form of non-entertainment. Reportedly he had done the film because he needed a departure from the string of action flicks where he toted a gun with macho bravado. As bad as those violent films may have been, Willis would have done his career a lot of good by not veering away if Color of Night is any indication. Let us all hope that Willis doesn't get the notion that he is an actor that is in need of branching out and exploring his talent again.
Here's the abysmal plot: When one of his patients jumps off a building to a grisly death, a psychologist leaves to visit an old friend, who also meets a grisly death at the hands of a psychopath. The police think it was the work of one of his patients. While this is going on, Willis gets involves with a mysterious woman named Rose (March, The Lover), while others in the peer group have affairs of their own with someone shockingly similar.
After the critical accolades that Richard Rush's last directorial effort, The Stunt Man, received, you would think he might have a number of scripts floating his way in need of a proven director. Amazingly, Rush did not direct a thing until 14 years later, when he took the job of filming The Color of Night. Perhaps to no one's amazement, he hasn't directed a thing since.
One could possibly attribute the poor direction showed here with Rush being rusty, but nine out of ten first-time directors have made better films than this, so there really should be no excuse. Even the most mundane scene is coated with ominously scary music for no apparent reason. If Willis gets out of the car...SCARY MUSIC! If Willis opens the door to his house...SCARY MUSIC! If Willis pulls a wedgie out of his rear-end...SCARY MUSIC! Curiously, the only time when the films isn't particularly scary is when something that should be scary is actually going on.
By and large, I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews whenever possible, but I am sorry, if you can't figure out Willis' freak-boy patient named Richie isn't in fact Jane March in disguise from the first moment you see him/her, it's time to head to Lens Crafters for a new set of eye-windows. There are some "erotic" scenes throughout Color of Night, but they are less-than-enjoyable due to the feeling that the gargantuan-toothed waif might break in half from the buck-naked acrobatics with the much larger Willis. Then there's the added fact that each simulated sex act sounds like it's played to the love theme from Rocky, making what should be the most titillating scenes duller than watching the end credits, providing you make it that far.
The real "color of night" can be seen when you turn off your television set, which is exactly what you should do when the movie with that title rears its ugly head on it.
©1998 Vince Leo