Starring: Aiden Quinn, Daryl Hannah
Directed by: James Foley
The unfortunate thing about Reckless is you could see the foundation of a good movie behind its superficial edginess and excessive sexuality. It almost seems that director James Foley focused on trying to make the film look good rather than focus on substance. The grittiness the film tries to exude overshoots its mark. The acting doesn’t do the film any favours neither. The story is compelling, but because of all the faults of the film, it goes from something that could have been really interesting and must-watch to something that is kind of just there.
Johnny Rourke (Quinn) is seeing his life fall apart before his eyes. His mother has left his father (Kenneth McMillian), who is in danger of losing his job due to incessant drinking. He went from being a popular guy to becoming a deviant weirdo that likes to spend his evenings riding his motorcycle to a lookout overlooking the town and drinking. His rocky relationship with his father leads to him getting kicked out of his home.
Tracey Prescott (Hannah) is the typically privileged girl who leads the cheerleading team and is also dating the star quarterback Randy (Adam Baldwin). However, she finds that her life is too perfect and feels like she has no control over her destiny. A contest that put football players with cheerleaders leads Tracey to have a date with Johnny. Even though she looks at Johnny as a hopeless mess, she sees in him a way on how life can be less plain. Randy’s jealousy pushes Tracey into Johnny’s arms and they begin an affair that will take both their lives in a direction that neither was expecting.
In a world of countless coming-of-age stories and rebelling against society, this feels like another film in the pile rather than one that stand out. They try with the complexity of the Johnny Rourke character, but too many anti-hero tropes make this film feel generic. How many times in storytelling have we seen the popular girl reject her wealthy boyfriend and choose the brooding loner? There is nothing special about this story and it comes off incredibly predictable. Even when Tracey’s behaviour becomes just as reckless (oh, I get the film title now) as Johnny’s, it feels more like something checked off on a list of things for this movie to do rather than a shock.
Even predictable movies can be great, but they need good writing and acting. In many ways for this movie, both are bad. There are many times that this movie pushes a character’s development that seems unnatural. The altercation with Johnny, his father, and his father’s girlfriend that ends up destroying Johnny and his father’s relationship seems to come out of nowhere and it’s left for the viewer to fill in the gaps of how Johnny twisted the situation.
Tracey’s entire character arc seems like something that would only exist in a fictional universe. While one could argue that Tracey’s simply confused by life, the story does not do a good job explaining why someone who wants to get more out of life fall for someone who seems so determined to let the world destroy them. The film pushes the “bored popular girl that wants to rebel” trope really hard (pushing tired tropes is something this film does often) without making it seem logical within the story. It comes across as something that Tracy must do only because it’s supposed to be like that in cinema rather than create some plausibility.
Reckless comes across as average at best because it tries to hard to be edgy and rely on overused controversial tropes that make the film’s direction seem too obvious for it to interesting. James Foley tried too hard to create a flavour for this film that seems contrived and overdone rather than organic and original. While Aiden Quinn is fairly good, Darryl Hannah’s performance feels as unnatural as her character’s arc. An average movie can still be worth watching, but the ending is too lame for it to be worth your time. If edgy movies where the focus is on a troubled teenager trying to figure out life, maybe you’ll get something out of this; otherwise, you’re probably going to want to pass on this.