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Daylight (1996) - Movie Review

It’s a fact that every actor, no matter how successful has their box office failures. No movie star has a 100% success record, and in the case of Sylvester Stallone the 90s and early 2000s were a rocky time for him (see what I did there?)


Sure he had movies like Cop Land (1997) Cliffhanger (1993) and Demolition Man (1993) that drew praise from both fans and critics alike, but for the most part his star seemed to be all but burnt out until he returned to his Rocky roots with Rocky Balboa in 2006.


Fortunately though we’re not all pretentious, impossible-to-please, heads-up-our-own-backsides film critics, and some of us can actually still enjoy the odd movie that isn’t necessarily as good as some of an actors previous, “finer” work. Case in point:


Daylight (1996)


Now, I admit this film has its faults, but from an entertainment point of view I think it hits a lot of the right notes and deserves a lot more credit than it gets.


If you haven’t seen it, it’s an action/adventure/drama/thriller directed by Rob Cohen (DragonHeart, The Fast and the Furious), starring Sylvester Stallone (Rocky), Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy), Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Stan Shaw (The Monster Squad) among many others.


This is what it’s about according to the internet:


“A runaway car hits a truck full of toxic waste causing an explosion that seals both exits of an underground tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey. It's up to Kit Latura, disgraced ex-chief of the city's Emergency Medical Services, to find a way in and bring out the survivors before air runs out or the Hudson river runs in.”



Certain genres have a tendency to enjoy a resurgence every couple of decades or so, and that can definitely be said for the good old disaster movie. Back in the 70s films like The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake had people flocking to the cinema to revel in the dramatic carnage. In more recent years movies like San Andreas, The Day After Tomorrow, Deep Water Horizon and The Impossible have been responsible for the disaster movie’s popularity spiking again.


Back in the 90s though it seemed like we were obsessed with the idea of people in peril - or indeed the end of the world in general. Films like Titanic, Armageddon, Twister and Volcano made up a lot of the decade’s blockbuster movies, not to mention films with very similar storylines to some of those (Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak) pushing the disaster movie genre quite possibly to its limits. And maybe that’s one of the reasons this movie wasn’t received as well as intended…



Regardless of all that I love it! It’s one of those films I always find myself putting on whenever I see it showing on TV, and as a result I’ve seen it more times than I could say.

Sure it has some questionable dialogue and less than perfect performances. It also has a few unrealistic (not to mention) convenient scenarios, but aren’t those the things that make a disaster movie a disaster movie?


The premise is simple and the story is easy to follow: 'People get trapped in tunnel under river, man has to find a way in and get them all out before said tunnel fills with water.' In fact the scene where Sly only has a few seconds to get in through each of the spinning fans of the ventilation system is one of the most tense moments in the entire film!


Another standout scene (and a great performance) is when George (Stan Shaw) gets injured and Sly’s character, Kit Latura has to make an impossible decision. It breaks my heart every single time I watch it!



For me this film’s good points easily outweigh the bad. It has action, suspense, a decent performance from Sly, and peril and explosions in ample measures. It also has a great score by Randy Edelman (The Last of the Mohicans) and some pretty impressive practical effects. Its main quality though is its 90s charm and the fact that it’s just great entertainment - like a film like this should be.


If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon.


Seen it? Let me know what you think.

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