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Lightning Jack is funny at times but lacks real plot

Lightning Jack

Starring Paul Hogan and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Directed by Simon Wincer.

Written By Paul Hogan.

Loews Copley Place.

By Patrick Mahoney
Staff Reporter

Lightning" Jack Kane is the fastest gun in the west, but no one knows it. Lightning Jack details Kane's attempt to gain recognition as an outlaw by stereotypically robbing banks. He wants people to respect and fear him for his cunning and ability, but no one knows who he is. To rectify this situation he plans a huge bank robbery - one that will make him famous. You all know the story; there isn't anything new here. It's the same old plot with Paul Hogan playing a witty, "nice-guy" outlaw trying to make a name for himself.

Lightning Jack sells itself as a western and a comedy, but while it tries to capture the best of both, it succeeds in getting left with nothing at all appealing. It lacks the action and the ruthless villians of a western, but at the same time sacrifices the comedy which it masquerades as drama. It ends up with a little bit of each which sum to next to nothing.

Hogan is amazingly funny is his role. He has the wit and charm that we remember from Crocodile Dundee, which unfortunately causes him to stick out like a sore thumb in a Western with hardened outlaws. He just doesn't fit. It might be okay if he showed even a little bit of "dark side," but he doesn't and that makes him very unbelievable.

Ben "Comanche" Doyle, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., is annoyingly cute. He isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, an outlaw despite desperately wanting to be. Gooding plays the role well, but it just isn't really one that we care about. A sweet, lovable outlaw doesn't fit in a Western, even one that tries to sell itself as a comedy.

Lana, the heroine of the film played by Beverly D'Angelo, is equally unappealing. She's a prostitute that Kane visits from time to time and has promised to marry some day. The only thing is that he hasn't seen her for many years. So at the end, when Kane rides in to carry her off into the sunset, I wrote it off as another Hollywood clich.

The overwhelming problem is that the film lacks anything to really capture the interest of the audience. The humorous scenes are there, but the plot is mundane. The characters - mildly interesting by themselves - don't work well together despite the best efforts of the actors. Perhaps if the editors had spent a little more time reworking the script, this would have been a decent movie.

Lightning Jack does have a few redeeming qualities. It is funny at times. Hogan brings life to the role of Kane, and Gooding is amusing to watch. It also looks real. The film was shot in Australia so it resembles what you expect the old West to look like. Still, I wouldn't recommend actively going to see it, but if you find yourself in a darkened theater when it starts playing, you might as well stay and watch.