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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Tense Minutes

Desperate Hours (1990) on IMDb

Plot Overview

To some eery moonlit morning music, a Jaguar driven hell-bent-for-leather eats up the wide western miles until it pulls over on a small over­look. Out steps a blonde who has trouble written all over her. The over­look memorial reads: "UTAH/ Fifth Cavalry Company/ Col. Nathan Brutus." Ah, the cavalry. We know what that entails. Author Ted Dekker has described it: (6)

The sergeant shifted his grip on the M16 in his hands, checked his magazine and safety with­out looking, eyes peeled at the desert. At nothing. But if there was one thing the American forces had learned, it was that nothing could become some­thing in a big hurry out here in this wasteland.

Pro bono defense attorney Nancy Breyers (Kelly Lynch) hoofs it back to Calif. on an early morning bus. She has a court date defending low­life murderer Michael Bosworth (Mickey Rourke.) It's another dreary day in paradise. Until events take a turn.

brontosaurusIn a peaceful Salt Lake City suburb, a boorish father Tim Cornell (Anthony Hopkins) shows up to try to make amends with his wife Nora (Mimi Rogers), greet his 15-year-old daughter May (Shawnee Smith), and play with his 8-year-old son Zack (Danny Gerard.) He chides the kid about there being “a bronto­saurus in the swimming pool.” The thing about bronto­sauruses is you don't see them while they're submerged. Fortunately, they are not carnivorous, so they won't try to eat you, but if you're dwelling in their hole, try not to get underfoot.

Tim returns later that day to find his family held hostage by an escaped jailbird & crew. They're not out to hurt the subur­banites; they just need a place to lay low until Michael's shyster moll joins them. Tim for his part is a veteran of the Vietnam War—where eruptions of sudden furious fire­fight were the rule. He was a well decorated grunt who still knows how to wield a knife or a fire­arm and to lead troops on a mission. Problem is his crew, his family, are untrained civilians, not fighters, and his wife has trouble trusting his authority after he'd been unfaithful. Michael, on the other hand, is good at manipulating women, getting them to trust him.


Michael pulled the Jaguar into a quiet suburb and picked one house at random, calling it “fate.” Fate is not kind to the people there, in the sense of (Eccl. 9:11) “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of under­standing, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Michael's nervous friend Albert (David Morse) from his prison days was to split up with them and head to Juarez. He was in such a hurry to avoid imagined pursuit that he attracted altogether too much attention to him­self. Truly, his race was “not to the swift.”

“Nor the battle to the strong.” Michael held the upper hand holding Nora hostage at gun­point … but was the gun even loaded?

family dinner“Neither yet bread to the wise.” Family and imposed guests settle down to a quiet candlelight, turkey dinner that Nora has cooked for them. Michael in formal attire remarks, “A man is not a man unless he knows how to mix a proper martini and tie a proper bow tie.” It may be stressful to have one's home invaded, but if it happens, a woman couldn't ask for more than that they all sit down to a quiet meal where every­one is polite to each other. And yet it's not stress-free, after all, because winter is on its way and, “My heating is gone.” To Michael's question, “Where's the heat in the place? It's gettin' chilly in here,” Nora replies, “It doesn't work.” But lo and behold, the heating repair­man arrives. Alas, they can't let him in to fix it for fear of exposure.

“Nor yet riches to men of understanding.” Michael had in the past opened a Certificate of Deposit, but the criminals needed cash, so he had to cash it out at the bank despite the “significant penalty for early withdrawal.” There went his properly invested money.

“Nor yet favour to men of skill.” Michael's brother Wally (Elias Koteas) is sent out­side to start the car. The FBI by now has the place under surveillance and are just waiting for the remaining criminals to come out. The guy starts the car for the rest. Why do they have to waste him?

(Eccl. 9:12) “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” Wally gets caught in the net, and the real estate agent Ed Tallent (Gerry Bamman) gets snared in the invasion when he unluckily stopped by to do business just at the wrong time. It was curtains for them.

FBI agent Bob after updating his superior, Brenda Chandler (Lindsay Crouse), had to admit, “I hate it when you already know what's happening,” to which she replied, “Hate is a strong word, Bob.” Webster defines, “hate vb 1 : to feel extreme enmity toward <hates his country's enemies> 2 : to have a strong aversion to: find very distasteful <hated to have to meet strangers> <hate hypocrisy>.” It is evident here that Bob hates2 it when his boss is right. This is in contrast to, say, Dekker: (58)

I don't like Ryan. I might even hate[1] him. Like I said, I used to feel guilty about that, but I've come to realize that my father left us long ago for another wife.

The trick here is for the FBI to get Nancy to hate2 what Michael stands for enough to turn on him, though she may still love him in the romantic sense. Christians face a similar dilemma when some­times they're forced to hate2 what their loved ones stand for, per (Luke 14:26) ‘If any man come to me, and hate[2] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he can­not be my disciple.’

Production Values

” (1990) was directed by Michael Cimino remaking the 1955 film, “The Desperate Hours.” Its screen­play was written by Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, and Joseph Hayes, derived from a play & novel by Joseph Hayes. It stars Mickey Rourke, Anthony Hopkins, Kelly Lynch, and Mimi Rogers. The actors portrayed their parts with aplomb, Hopkins playing his cards close to the vest while the others wore their hearts on their sleeves.

It was rated R. It's definitely in the shadow of the 1955 original. The music was composed by David Mansfield. The scenery shots did the west justice.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I was captivated by the first scene and it held my unflagging interest wondering what was going to happen next. As long as your expectations aren't to see a classic, it should be a worth­while viewing experience. The music was really a number.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Dekker, Ted. BoneMan's Daughters. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2009. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.