*** ½ Out of 5
Tagline- Two of L.A.’s Top Rival Cops are Going to Have to Work Together. Even If It Kills Them
Release Date- December 22nd, 1989
Running Time- 104-Minutes
Screenplay- Randy Feldman
Director- Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring- Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, Brion James and Jack Palance
Released in 1989 Tango & Cash was made to cash in (no pun intended) on the success of Lethal Weapon. While most cite Lethal Weapon as the start of the buddy cop film it was actually 48 Hours that started the formula despite Eddie Murphy playing a criminal and not a cop and than of course Beverly Hills Cop, but Lethal Weapon, which is one of my all time favorite films elevated both the buddy cop and action film to a whole other level and along with Die Hard are two of the most influential action films of all time. Tango & Cash is a film I enjoy, but its also for me one of my biggest letdowns since it stars two of my favorite actors, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell during the prime of their careers and Tango & Cash also has a great supporting cast and its a film that should have reached epic heights, but turns out a fun film nothing less and nothing more. When all is said and done what makes the film enjoyable is the chemistry between Sly and Russell who really worked amazing together. Outside of Rocky, Rocky Balboa and First Blood this is my favorite Sly performance and Kurt Russell is always great in anything he does.
Ray Tango (Stallone) and Gabriel Cash (Russell) are rival cops each thinking their the best in L.A., but when they’re both set up for murder and sent to prison they hatch an escape plan and form an alliance in trying to clear their name. The screenplay was written by Randy Feldman who in 1981 wrote the now cult classic slasher film Hell Night, which starred Linda Blair, Tango & Cash came out 8-years later and was his 2nd script produced after this Feldman would write Nowhere to Run with Van Damme and Metro with Eddie Murphy and than just have a couple of TV credits. Feldman’s script takes the basic formula of Lethal Weapon only not nearly as creative or well written. The script is basically filled with banter between Tango & Cash and at times Feldman seems to try and be witty, which causes the material to seem forced. However what makes the script work is how Sly and Russell work together and manage to make a slightly below average script seem much better. Both of them really sell the dialogue, which makes the script again seem much better than it actually is. Characters do lack depth in particular the villains, which is unfortunate due to have some very good actors, Tango & Cash fair a bit better, but that’s also due to Stallone and Russell. Overall Feldman’s script isn’t terrible and it does have some fun moments, but at times the material feels a bit forced and its never as good as the films its imitating.
Tango & Cash was directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy, but apparently late into the production he was replaced by Albert Magnoli who directed the Prince film Purple Rain. Magnoli doesn’t have a credit only Andrey Konchalovskiy does. From what I can gather Konchalovskiy wanted to make the film a little more serious, but the studio wanted it to have a light tone. Konchalovskiy delivers the standard buddy cop film and while well paced for the most part its never as exciting as the idea may have seemed. It feels like bits and pieces of other much better films and even the action scenes aren’t as exciting as they could have been. Konchalovskiy does deliver an entertaining film and the action is alright, but there was potential for a lot more.
As I stated a couple of times it truly is Stallone and Russell that elevate this film. I often feel Stallone doesn’t get enough credit as an actor now granted in some of his films his performance may not have been great, but I never really had a problem with his acting, but people forget he is an Oscar nominated actor. I found his performance is Rocky to be great and its one of my favorite acting performances. Here in Tango & Cash he was great playing a character quite different than the typical Sly character. And what I love about Sly is he has a sense a humor when one character says how Tango thinks he’s Rambo, Tango replies with Rambo’s a pussy. In my opinion Sly gave one of his best performances and Kurt Russell is equally as great here and in my opinion despite the acclaim Kurt Russell has gotten his career I also find him one of the most underrated actors. Together Sly and Russell have such great chemistry and I cannot stress enough how great they were and really elevate a film that without them might be a bit below average. Jack Palance sadly is sort of wasted here and I hate when such a terrific actor has such a forgettable character. Palance was a terrific actor, but really anyone could have played this role. Teri Hatcher as Tango’s sister is excellent and while still early in her career she holds her own and really stands out.
When Warner Brothers made this film I’m sure they probably saw potential for a franchise, but that never came to be and I never cared enough to look into it, but Tango & Cash was produced on a 55-million dollar budget, which may not seem like a lot for an action film with two big name actors since modern action films tend to be at a budget of 150-million and even more than that. In 1988 Stallone with Rambo III on a 63-million dollar budget had the most expensive film ever produced at the time. So the 55-million dollar budget here isn’t too far behind and while Tango & Cash made 63-million dollars in the US perhaps it wasn’t a big enough of a profit for Warner to make a sequel.
Overall Tango & Cash is a decent enough film mainly thanks in part to the two leads. My rating is a light 3.5, but its a film I can revisit from time to time, but like I said its a film that is also one of my biggest disappointments since with a cast that includes Sly, Russell, Hatcher, Palance, Michael J. Pollard, James Hong and Brion James should have come out far better. Like I said Tango & Cash is fun, but there was potential for a lot more. The highlight of the film was Kurt Russell in drag!!