5 Movie Detectives That Deserve Another Movie

Joe Hallenbeck from The Last Boy Scout

Few things in life are as enjoyable as Shane Black’s criminally underrated The Last Boy Scout.  The birth of your first child.  Maybe a good steak.  But that’s it.  Nothing else beats The Last Boy Scout.  It’s a Molotov cocktail of hilarious dialogue, Halle Berry stripping, a killer stuffed animal named Furry Tom, and Bruce Willis f*cking a squirrel to death.  So yeah, it’s pretty much the greatest movie ever made.

If we lived in a perfect world, The Last Boy Scout would’ve garnered universal acclaim and generated a lasting franchise.  As it stands, the movie is a forgotten gem that doesn’t even have its own Blu-ray — you have to purchase it in a two-pack with Last Man Standing.  For shame, Warner Brothers.

As much as John McClane is Bruce’s signature character, it’s Detective Joe Hallenbeck that deserves his own franchise.  Hallenbeck is a natural fit for Willis: sarcastic, down-on-his-luck, hard to kill, and full of witty one-liners.  He also dances a mean jig.  Actually, he’s pretty much cut from the same cloth as McClane, but with the benefit of Shane Black’s superior tailoring.  How can you not want to see another movie with a detective that says, “You even look at my daughter and I’m going to stick an umbrella up your ass and open it.”  Everyone should talk like that.

Ford Fairlane from The Adventures of Ford Fairlane

Say what you will about Andrew Dice Clay, but there was a brief moment in time where the man was a comedy God.  At the height of his popularity, legendary producer Joel Silver thought it would be a good idea to make an action movie starring Andrew Dice Clay.  God bless him for the audacity and stupidity.

There’s nothing about The Adventures of Ford Fairlane that’s particularly well made.  Or subtle.  It’s a movie that coasts on the fumes generated by the sleazy charm of Andrew Dice Clay.  His Ford Fairlane is a vulgar, misogynistic dickhead that makes no apologies for being a complete prick to every man, woman, and child that crosses his path.  There’s little to no difference between Ford Fairlane and Andrew Dice Clay, which is fine because they’re both equally hilarious.

Similar to Detective Joe Hallenbeck in The Last Boy Scout, Ford Fairlane is a character that exists to spout off great one-liners.  “Hey, great pipes, huh?  I’ve heard cats f*ck with more harmony.”  Or even better, “What are your names, Neil and Bob, or is that just what you do?”  Unfortunately, audiences were unwilling to take the case and doomed The Adventures of Ford Fairlane to obscurity.
Mitch Henessey from The Long Kiss Goodnight

“The last time I got blown candy bars cost a nickel.”  That’s one of the many colorful pearls of wisdom tossed out by Samuel L. Jackson’s perpetually put-upon private detective Mitch Henessey.  He’s a chain-smoking, shot-drinking, womanizing son-of-a-bitch and Jackson absolutely kills it.  Other than his star-making role in Pulp Fiction, this is Jackson’s finest hour.  Unless you count Coach Carter.  In which case, you’re a moron.

What’s so great about Henessey is that he’s not good at his job.  He’s a below average detective, fresh out of prison, recently divorced, and barely scraping by.  The guy can’t even afford to give his son a proper Christmas present, which is precisely what makes him so endearing.  He’s a complete f*ckup.  So many times we see the private detective presented as a smooth operator, deftly maneuvering around the bad guys.  Not Henessey.  He was born to lose.

Henessey may not be the most qualified detective for the job, but he’ll give it his best shot, and may even die trying.  Actually, scratch that.  Henessey is indestructible and can’t die.  For real.  During the course of The Long Kiss Goodnight he’s tortured, shot, blown-up, and then some.  And by the end, he’s miraculously still ticking.  Let’s see Phillip Marlowe top that.
Harry Lockhart and Gay Perry from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Next to The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the most under-appreciated detective movie since…The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight.  So much for variety.  Random coincidence: all three of those movies were written by Shane Black.  What is it with Black and poorly received detective movies?  At least Lethal Weapon was successful.

For those of you that don’t know, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was the movie that relaunched the career of Robert Downey Jr.  If it wasn’t for this little detective movie, there wouldn’t be an Iron Man.  Or at least it wouldn’t have starred Robert Downey Jr.  Not only is the guy a phenomenal actor, but he’s an inspiration to drug addicts everywhere — even if you snort a line of coke off a public urinal there’s still a place for you in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Val Kilmer.  Apparently, if you’re fat there’s no place for you in the entertainment industry.  Maybe Kilmer should snort coke.

Like the cheap detective novels that Shane Black draws his inspiration from, the plot of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is convoluted and difficult to sum up without being confusing.  And frankly, who really gives a sh*t about the story.  It’s all about Downey and Kilmer bouncing off one another.  Figuratively, not literally.  Cliff notes version: Robert Downey Jr. plays Harry Lockhart, an idiot thief turned private detective-in-training under the cruel tutelage of the brilliantly named Gay Perry, Val Kilmer.  And yes, Gay Perry is actually gay.

The stroke of genius, however, is that Gay Perry is the action hero and Robert Downey Jr. is an ineffectual schmuck.  The chemistry between the two partners — and that’s partners in the non-homosexual sense — is electric.  You can’t watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and not cry out for a sequel.  It’s the crowning achievement of Shane Black’s long and storied career, and when you’re the screenwriter of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and even f*king Monster Squad, that’s saying something.

Underrated Sequels That Deserve More Love

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

For children of the 80’s that grew up during the glory days of HBO and Cinemax, this is the best and only Indiana Jones sequel.  You can keep your saccharine sweet Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and your fridge nuking Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  They’re inferior sequels and you have chosen poorly.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a f*cking classic.  Like the drunken relative at your family reunion — it’s dark, funny, and entertaining as hell.  And who doesn’t love a fun drunk?

Why It’s Hated:

The Darkness.  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the reason we have a PG-13 rating.  Apparently child slavery and ripping the hearts out of bodies as a sacrifice to a Pagan God is crossing the line.  Who knew?

Short Round.  Audiences were unwilling to accept Indy having a child as a sidekick.  They were wrong.  Short Round has never been topped.  He is a likeable and funny character,  and most importantly, he’s capable.  So many movies make the mistake of having the child be nothing more than a plot device — someone for the hero to rescue — but not Short Round.  He kicks almost as much ass as Indy!

Kate Capshaw.  Or as she’s better known: Mrs. Spielberg.  She is the one element that’s hard to defend.  It’s not that Capshaw is bad, it’s just that the character is written as the stereotypical, hapless female — something that Karen Allen in Raiders was definitely not.

Let’s face it, any sequel that followed Raiders of the Lost Ark was going to pale in comparison.

Why You Should Love It:

The Mine cart chase.  Almost thirty years later and the sequence is still as gripping and fantastic as it was when it first premiered.  In fact, the entire third act of Temple of Doom is better than the finale of Raiders.  Blasphemy?  Maybe.  But at least Temple of Doom has the good sense to deliver a rousing finale in which the main character is actively kicking ass and taking names instead of being tied to a post with his eyes closed.

The iconic shot of Indy punching the sh*t out of the hapless Thugee cult member and emerging out of the shadows to reveal that he has broken free of the black sleep of Kali and is ready to kick ass once again.  Goosebumps.

Mola Ram.  The best villain of the franchise.  Search your feelings, you know it to be true.  Sure, Nazis are the most evil bad guys on the planet, but there’s nothing scarier than a voodoo priest that can rip your heart out and make it catch fire.  Oh, and by the way, you’re still alive while that happens.  “Kali-ma…Kali-ma…Kali-ma, shakthi deh!”

Crank 2

Not exactly a highbrow choice but damn if this isn’t a fun little bit of insanity.  Such a better movie than the first.  Crank 2 is an attention deficit love letter to excess, bad taste, and low budget creativity.  In fact, the only disappointing aspect of Crank 2 is that it did so poorly at the box office we’ll probably never see another sequel.

Why It’s Hated:

Good question.  More than likely people felt cheated at the very idea of a sequel considering Jason Statham plummeted thousands of feet to his death at the end of the original.  What these people fail to understand is that this is precisely why Crank 2 is awesome — it literally gives sense and logic the middle finger.  Seriously, that’s basically the final shot of the movie.

Why You Should Love It:

Within the first five minutes Jason Statham has shoved a shotgun completely up someone’s ass.  So it has that going for it.

Self-indulgent creativity.  Not since the original black and white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic by Eastman and Laird has an artistic work been so rife with the fetishes of its creators.  8-bit video game references?  Check.  Cheesy, Man-in-suit Godzilla antics?  Yep, you got it.  Nothing is off limits for the writing and directing duo of Neveldine & Taylor, and it’s invigorating to watch a movie where anything, no matter how stupid or disturbing, can happen.

On a side note: why is it that when Tarantino makes a film that’s obviously made by himself for himself that it’s perfectly acceptable, but when Neveldine And Taylor make something like Crank 2 it’s considered self-indulgent crap?

Die Hard With A Vengeance

Yes, the one with Samuel L. Jackson.  Keep in mind this was before Jackson became a shouting parody of himself.  He’s actually quite good in the film and his chemistry with Bruce Willis is one of the many things that makes this a superior sequel.

Why It’s Hated:

A lot of fans dislike Die Hard With A Vengeance because it eschews the series’ penchant for enclosed spaces, opting instead for New York City as McClane’s playground.  The addition of Samuel L. Jackson as McClane’s reluctant partner is frequently, and incorrectly, cited as a negative.

Why You Should Love It:

Because it drops the Die Hard formula for something far more interesting and visceral than a simple retread in a new confined location.  We’ve already seen Willis trapped in a building and an airport, not to mention all the Die Hard knockoffs like Speed and Under Siege, let’s shake it up a little.  Allowing Willis to rampage through New York, running over mimes and destroying central park, is precisely why this is the only good sequel.  It’s not a carbon copy.  While Die Hard 2 is a moderately entertaining sequel, it’s an exact replica of the first and follows the original beat for beat — was it really necessary to bring back William Atherton as the dickhead reporter?!?

Die Hard With A Vengeance wastes absolutely no time getting McClane good and f*cked up.  Within the first ten minutes Willis is bleeding, hungover, and knee deep in yet another really bad day.  The addition of Samuel L. Jackson and the subtraction of McClane’s wife and other familiar sequel trappings elevate Die Hard With A Vengeance to stand almost toe to toe with the original.  If only the ending wasn’t so anti-climatic…

The French Connection II

Most people don’t even know that a sequel exists.  And you know what?  It’s actually pretty damn good.  Gene Hackman reprises his Academy Award winning role of Detective Popeye Doyle and delivers a performance that’s even more impressive and demanding than his last.  The story posits Doyle in France trying to track down the drug dealing Frenchman that got away at the end of the first French Connection.  While that may sound like a routine sequel, The French Connection II takes Doyle and audiences to places that you wouldn’t think a major studio release would go: like giving the main character an addiction to heroin.

Why It’s Hated:

The aforementioned drug addiction was probably a factor.  Almost the entire second act of the film is consumed by Doyle’s forced addiction and subsequent detoxification of heroin.  It’s not fun to watch, and it’s not supposed to be.  Popeye Doyle has become the very thing he hates.  And Gene Hackman knocks it out of the park.  He’s even more deserving of an Academy Award for his work here than he was in the original French Connection.

Why You Should Love It:

This is ballsy, take-no-prisoners filmmaking.  Fans of Joe Carnahan or early Michael Mann will absolutely love this.  You don’t get sequels this outside of the box.  It’s a risky move to have your main character addicted to heroin for the latter half of your movie, but it makes it all the more rewarding when Popeye Doyle finally snaps out of his heroin haze and gets revenge on the dastardly Frenchman he’s been chasing for two films.  And what a chase!  The original French Connection is arguably most famous for its vehicular carnage, and the sequel doesn’t disappoint.  However, this time the chase is on foot.  And it’s bad ass.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let the Kraken know.