MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Harley Davidson, Marlboro’ . . . Lively but Ludicrous


Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson, who have the title roles as likable drifters in “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man” (citywide), play off each other beautifully and have never looked better, but this lively but ludicrous macho fantasy should be way beneath them.

Rourke is Harley, a biker, and Johnson is the Marlboro Man, a former rodeo cowboy. They’re old friends who cross paths and join forces to try to save their beloved ‘50s-style Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar and Grill in Burbank. They’d both have ended up in the gutter if it weren’t for the caring of its paternal proprietor, the Old Man (Julius Harris). It’s 1996, the lease to the place is up and greedy bankers are out to grab it because of its proximity to the vast new Burbank International Airport.

What to do but knock over one of the bankers’ armored trucks to obtain the $2.5 million the Old Man will need to hold on to his cafe? The hitch is that instead of cash they find themselves with a large supply of an ultra-lethal street drug; the key bad guy (Tom Sizemore) in the plot runs the bank and rakes in $15 million on the side from drug deals.

Although the film (rated R for violence, language, some sex), written by actor Don Michael Paul, is a mindless cobbling from countless buddy movies, this does not mean its makers do not know what they’re doing, which is to aim squarely for the young, undiscriminating urban male audience. However, Rourke and Johnson are worthy of better, as is Australian director Simon Wincer, best known for his Emmy-winning direction of the miniseries “Lonesome Dove.”

‘Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man’

Mickey Rourke: Harley Davidson

Don Johnson: The Marlboro Man

Tom Sizemore: Chance

Vanessa Williams: Lulu Daniels

An MGM presentation of a Krisjair/Laredo production. Director Simon Wincer. Producer Jere Henshaw. Screenplay Don Michael Paul. Cinematographer David Eggby. Editor Corky Ehlers. Costumes Richard Shissler. Music Basil Poledouris. Production design Paul Peters. Art director Lisette Thomas. Set decorator Lynn Wolverton Parker. Don Johnson. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

MPAA-rated R (violence, language and sensuality).