You know those dreams where you’re being chased and you pour all your effort into running, but every step slows down like the ground is gooey strings of chewing gum pulling at your legs?
Judgment Night is fun like that.
It’s odd that it should be effective. It is stagey and simple and full of “be a man” themes – a boy’s film.
If you allow the overblown music to carry you into the story instead of pushing you away, you’ll find yourself in the damp city streets. The suspense works, echoing those subconscious “pursuit” scenarios despite the obvious approach.
I’ve always had a kernel of enthusiasm for this movie, since nobody remembers it and it works better than it should.
Judgement Night sorta hinges on whether or not you want to hang out with Emilio Estevez and Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jeremy Piven for a while in 1993.
If you let yourself grow to like them at all (Piven is plenty fun,) and you watch the movie in the dark, it does offer thrills.
Don’t give yourself such a hard time about getting into it. You were 15 once. That’s all the movie asks, is for you to be a boy again.
Maybe you saw Predator in the theater as a kid, and the music left a subconscious impression. The Silvestri score sounds bold just like Predator.
Great Jeremy Piven roles don’t come along too often. You need to see this to complete his ouvre.
If Piven-ness doesn’t justify having a 12-year-old boy’s nightmare for 90 minutes, and being slapped by a childish script while shoved by a pushy score still puts you off, consider this:
Judgment Night perfects Denis Leary.
Leary has carved himself a niche of pique. His nicotine-fueld jittery frustration often comes across like a pinchfaced James Woods stuck in traffic but less likable. That sort of high-energy discontent isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Onstage, he’s human sandpaper. Even a Sam Kinison fan may not enjoy Leary, because Leary never screams to provide catharsis after all that shuffling and barking.
Leary just builds up steam and builds up steam, like a teakettle who is a real asshole.
In Judgement Night we get to see Denis Leary take his schtick to its logical murderous conclusion as the bad guy. The result is oddly riveting. Like the movie is, the first night you watch it as a young man.