WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
eighties, Rutger Hauer was king. He was a man who managed to impress as
both villain and anti-hero in many movies from the classic "The Hitcher"
and "Bladerunner" to the not so classic but memorable "Blind Fury." And
as is the case, with every generation of bad asses, there's always
someone Hollywood is looking to peg as the next McQueen. "Wanted: Dead
or Alive" is based on the excellent Western series starring Steve
McQueen as a lone bounty hunter in the old west who travels along the
land with his shot gun acquiring his next catch and teaching them
lessons along the way while fighting the local bad guys. As is the case
with the eighties, director Gary Sherman completely diminishes all of
its period settings and sets its hero down in to modern times coating
him with black leather, slicked back hair and teaming him against local
terrorists as played by the tongued one Gene Simmons. For all its
inclination to be considered a very loose television adaptation,
"Wanted: Dead or Alive" makes very little effort to mimic the series as
a whole. Sure, Nick Randall is a bounty hunter, but there's only one
real instance in which he hunts a bounty and in spite of the sequence
being a typical prologue wherein our anti-hero thwarts a liquor store
robbery and defies authorities, Randall for the most part is a boring
What starts as a man who hunts different criminals soon becomes nothing more than a crime thriller about Nick being called back in to active duty to track a terrorist who is corrupting every bit of his life. Nick is then embroiled in a plot with the local authorities where he's being used as a tool to capture Malak Al Rahim all the while Simmons is basically forgettable as this villainous terrorist who takes it upon himself to strike at Nick's home, his financial security and his bland love interest, all the while Nick never actually hunts anyone. The title is turned on its head from being a summary of Nick's whole job to being about Nick who is wanted by local authorities and Rahim's crime syndicate by the time the second half rolls around. Nick's whole shtick revolves around his eluding the authorities and danger all the while rarely ever implementing his use of his Mare's Leg, or his ability to hunt people too much. When Nick finds himself confronted with Rahim in the climax, much of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" is a muddled and rather disappointing little affair taking what was an interesting and utterly exciting premise and turning it in to just another action film.
Gary Sherman's action thriller acts as something of an unusual animal. It's a sequel and adaptation of a Western series that is set in modern times with little to no relevance to the original source material beyond marketing on Steve McQueen's name recognition. "Wanted: Dead or Alive" is a bland and often lackluster action thriller with Rutger Hauer failing to hold a candle to McQueen.
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