Blow Out (1981)

“Blow Out” is equal parts a compelling, distinctly Hitchockian thriller, as well as a regrettably dated artifact of its more naïve era. Its central story is downright fascinating, following John Travolta’s sound engineer, who, specializing in horror movies, accidentally records a political assassination one night while capturing nighttime sounds for his current project. For the first hour or so, it’s almost a perfect thriller: Travolta is at the peak of his movie-star charisma, while director Brian De Palma’s unmistakable style is one display throughout, from the striking score to operatic, over-the-top violence that makes art out of suffering, not to mention a general anything-could-happen vibe that makes it a gripping watch. However, in the second half it starts to spin its wheels and falls apart: The storyline is gradually revealed to be rather simplistic in nature, and unfortunately everything becomes predictable to the point that I felt my interest dip dramatically. So, maybe if I were still more idealistic I may have been rocked by the implications of the movie’s plot, but after the last years of flagrant political corruption around the world it’s hard to be particularly surprised by the movie’s resolution. So that’s when an extraordinarily well-made movie like this ends up suffering from the passing of time, because modern audiences are jaded, so the “!!!” momentum that the movie strives for ends up diluted and toothless. So, this one of those movies that I appreciate from a moviemaking perspective but its resolution is too predictable and underwhelming to allow for an immersive experience.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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