An intriguing 80s effort from Walter Hill that, whilst not up there with his finest work, certainly has some things going for it.
The soundtrack stands out from the start and although Diane Lane isn’t actually on vocal duties she is utterly convincing in her rock chic persona. It’s the all-out power ballads coupled with another great score from the legendary Ry Cooder that makes you overlook some of the film’s more obvious shortcomings.
The story is an interesting enough, with a mysterious outsider returning to town to rescue the damsel in distress. Coming across like an 80s rock ‘n’ roll western, it’s undoubtedly a great concept. However, the film suffers from some serious pacing issues and can’t sustain the momentum throughout. The set pieces are great but there isn’t enough going on in between and the film flags in places.
When it hits however, it hits big and a great OTT performance (and even better outfits) from Willem Dafoe as the villainous Raven peaks the interest. Despite Micheal Paré looking the part his performance as Cody is left lacking when compared with the rest of the cast but the dialogue is knowingly cheesy and he just about sells it. Rick Moranis is on top form though and the supporting cast are decent throughout. It’s just a shame the rest of the film doesn’t always keep up.
The visuals however are brilliant, the neon-drenched vistas look fantastic and complement the music excellently so top marks to Hill for this. However this does at times make the lack of substance on offer feel like a bit of a letdown, had the two combined then this would have been something truly special rather than just an entertaining diversion.
It’s certainly not all bad though, in some ways this feels almost like a prequel to the superior Warriors and that’s interesting in its own right. Also in its favour is the anarchic representation of what it’s like to be young and the fact that the film never takes itself too seriously.
For all of its faults Streets of Fire is a whole heap of fun and is undoubtedly the 80s turned all the way up to eleven – worth a look but don’t expect too much.