Back in Business (1997)

A classic sports car packed with heroin! A crooked cop out to make a buck and kill our heroes! A showdown in every low budget action movie’s favorite location – a quarry! A showdown in every low budget action movie’s second favorite location – an airplane graveyard! An extended game of pick up basketball featuring college football legend (and NFL bust) Brian “the Boz” Bosworth playing in only his boxers and work boots! It all adds up to one thing: former cop Joe Elkhart (The Boz) and Tony Dunbar (anonymous black guy you don’t care about) are back in business!

The Boz continues his mid 1990s run of economical action movies of varying quality (Virus, One Man’s Justice, Midnight Heat) in Back in Business, a purported sequel to the Bozzest of all his films, Stone Cold. Though the characters are different and no reference is made to Stone Cold, my understanding is that every movie the Boz makes is simply a dramatization of a different chapter in the Boz’s life, whether it be landing out of control jetliners, escaping exploding yachts or avenging his family’s brutal murders! And if this is one of the more uninteresting incidents from a life of fighting the NCAA, Bo Jackson, and Dean Cain, you can’t blame Boz. He’s in there giving it his all, smirking, cussing, rocking his kick ass hair, and even giving the audience what it wants he announces that he and Dunbar are “back in business!”

Perhaps worried about the audience suffering from an overdose of Boz, director Philippe Mora (The Beast Within) takes forever to set the story up and get on with anything that is remotely interesting. We’re treated to a lengthy sequence involving Dunbar’s informant discovering the car packed with drugs, then a long stretch where Boz is working his mechanic job and dealing with a jerk customer (Boz beats up a car with a sledgehammer in the movie’s only good moments of the first 30 minutes), and then we have to watch almost an entire game of streetball where Boz and Dunbar lose $200 to their opponents. It wasn’t quite White Men Can’t Jump so much as Boz Can’t Shoot.

Boz finds that Dunbar is living the high life with a nice pad, yacht, rolls of cash and Dunbar comes clean that he’s working undercover trying to take down a drug lord. Boz used be a cop, but took the fall when they couldn’t prove their superior was dirty. Of course, this superior is still dirty and is involved with the drug lord, too.

For no good reason other than it provided the film a chance to have the dirty cops use a rocket launcher to blow up Dunbar’s yacht, Dunbar “borrows” some seized heroin and does a $2 million drug deal with the drug lord. In the ensuing explosion, he is presumed dead and Boz again takes the fall before the drug lord bails him out of jail because he wants his $2 million back.

Boz makes his escape and eventually ends up at his ex-wife’s house to give her a wedding present. But she’s not home! But guess who is? Dunbar! And with all the money! And the bad guys followed the Boz there, too! Dunbar kills both of them following a lengthy session of bickering with Boz that is probably supposed to be humorous, but only comes off as killing time before the budget allows for some more violence. And then the Boz convinces Dunbar to give him the money so they can finish this thing!

But how? By going to the classic car auction and bidding on the drug-filled Cobra! So, how does this finish anything? Who knows, but it gives Dunbar a chance to dress up like a Middle Eastern sheik and insult rich old women at the auction! How many times do you think the Boz just sat back smiling, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this trash! This is so much easier than football!.”

What was ingenious about this climatic car auction is that it was totally unnecessary. The bad guy outbid Dunbar and towed the car back to the airplane graveyard where he was meeting the dirty cops, presumably to pay them off. So why couldn’t Dunbar and Boz just wait in the parking lot and follow these guys once the auction was over instead of going through the trouble of participating in the auction? Simply put, the auction is Back in Business in microcosm. A combination of story elements that bordered on the dimwitted and unnecessary, humor that just wasn’t funny, and Boz grinning vacantly through it all.

And as slow going as it all was, it still felt underdeveloped. Boz’s history with the police department and his being run off the force is touched on only enough so that it happened, but for all the time spent on the dopey angle of him using a talk radio psychologist to work out his anger problems, nothing much comes of that or is explained. The same with all the talk about his ex-wife and the problems he had with her. It’s like she only existed as a concept so that Dunbar and Boz could have a common place to meet up when the plot needed them to.

The overly familiar finish at the quarry (complete with road construction signs so you know the bad guy will be driving off a cliff and exploding in short order) and airplane graveyard provide only the most derivative spark to things, but a tacked on happy ending in Monte Carlo with Boz, Dunbar and their girlfriends brings the movie right back to the moronic comedic elements littered throughout that almost never failed to put Back in Business entirely out of business.

© 2018 MonsterHunter

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