DAYLIGHT

“To hell with me!”

Has anyone ever noticed what a fabulously bad movie Daylight is?  I think in time it will take its rightful place alongside such classics as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, but why wait until then to enjoy a movie you can take home tonight? Sylvester Stallone stars as Kit Latura, a former fire chief who happens to be in the wrong place at the right time.  He’s chauffeuring a couple toward the tunnel to New Jersey when a car full of thugs crashes into a truck hauling toxic waste.  An impressive fireball barrels down the length of the tunnel and collapses both ends, making the odds of rescuing the survivors seem impossible to just about everyone but Kit.  At the peril of being chewed up like a banana in a blender, he drops between the blades of a giant fan and into the tunnel below. 

Equally as cocky, but not as smart is Roy Nord (Viggo Mortensen), a gorgeous but overconfident outdoorsman with his own line of sportswear.  He too is trapped in the tunnel, and not one to be deterred by a bad situation, he pulls out his climbing gear and shinnies up a “wormhole” in the cement above them.  When warned of the potential danger, he announces, “I was born six weeks premature. My own mother couldn’t keep me in!”  Yeah!  Moments later, mass quantities of cement, dust, debris, and what looks like a very shiny dumpster fall through the crevice, causing Roy Nord to disappear.  I reassured myself that he either got out of the way or that it all fell in front of him, and watched the remainder of the movie in a state of complacency: he had to show up again sooner or later.

Things progress steadily as Kit works tirelessly to save the others, aided by the level-headed Madelyne Thompson (Amy Brenneman).  Every survivor is given a chance, no matter how unpleasant they are, and at one point Kit even says, “To hell with me!”  Now how’s that for selfless?  The story is actually quite moving, but Daylight suffers from an inappropriately amusing script, and at a certain point the movie shifts from being *like* a classic bad movie to actually being The Poseidon Adventure.  Everyone has to dive down and swim through a tunnel, and shortly thereafter, a sweet older woman dies in the arms of her loving husband.  Hmm, where have I seen this before? 

Ah, but we can laugh at these things, and time has proven that I’ll watch Sylvester in just about anything, even Rhinestone.  His performance in Daylight can’t compare to his poignant work in First Blood, Lock Up, or Rocky IV, but it’s always good to see him.  He possesses just the right blend of strength and vulnerability, and it seems as though the world is always against him.  Watching Daylight was actually less stressful than most of his movies, because I just knew Viggo was going to drop out of the ceiling and save the day.  But then Sylvester got out.  And the credits rolled.  And I realized that Viggo had actually “died” when all of that crap fell on him.  That ridiculous exit really was all he wrote, and it’s exactly that weird incongruity between sincerity and absurdity that makes Daylight so delightfully awful.

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