Midnight Heat (1996)

The problem with leading a double life is that once you get run over by a car and catch a dose of amnesia, it makes things twice as hard to remember! Not only do you have the people in your current life harassing you at home and at work trying to get you to remember all the little moronic things you never really cared about in the first place (I work at a bank dealing with farm loans? Doc, I need a refill on my memory loss, stat!), but you’ve also got all the cool, dreamlike flashbacks from your old, much more awesome life (Did I just get jumped into a white supremacy prison gang and rob a bank? Sweet!).

To give credit where credit is due, your wife will likely go that extra mile in the bedroom and wear that sexy stuff she immediately quit wearing once you got married and ride you like a mechanical bull in one of those bars you used to plot your bank jobs at during your former life, but you’ll likely be imagining that it’s your even wilder and sexier girlfriend who went and got herself killed during one of those “wrong place, wrong time” deals that always messes up the perfect heist. Of course, if we’re being entirely honest, that’s pretty much every married guy even without amnesia!

The real drama though comes into play when that past life that keeps leaking into your scrambled brain catches up with you after a diabolical scheme is hatched by the gang you turned on all those years ago. No, I don’t mean the plan the villain discussed involving breaking a guy out of death row with a band of other prison escapees, a rehabbed helicopter and a single giant machine gun. That’s obviously never going to happen because no one watching Midnight Heat (originally titled Blackout) really believes it’s within the movie’s limited ambition and budget to actually stage a helicopter prison escape.

The ingenious plan I am referring to is the one that Payne (the leader of the gang) puts into motion to have Wayne Garret killed. And by “ingenious plan” I mean that Wayne called a phone number he remembered during his amnesia and managed to give away his location to the person on the other end of the phone. A person who just happens to be the bartender at the bar where Payne and his gang hang out! So Payne sends some people to the Arizona location from L.A. to kill Wayne.

Proving we aren’t dealing with the top ten percent of the criminal class, Payne does all this while in the middle of setting up the plan for the helicopter prison break. Of course if he actually got Wayne killed, it would only be a minor waste of resources and time that could have otherwise be spent on the his main plan. But instead Payne managed to “worst case scenario” the Arizona hit job. What’s the worst that can happen when trying to kill your deadly and resourceful arch nemesis who didn’t even remember you existed in the first place? Not killing him, but killing his wife instead!

Perversely, this turns out to be a best case scenario for Wayne as it frees him from a douchey life of wearing “smart guy glasses” and yuppie suspenders to his dull bank job every day and coming home to an annoying wife who keeps trying to get him to remember how awesome their honeymoon to Hawaii was and nagging him to go back to work. It also motivates Wayne to head out to L.A. to hunt Payne down before Payne can make another try on his life. And the best part is, Wayne still doesn’t really remember why any of this is even happening!

On paper it sounds like the film would then focus on Wayne’s relentless pursuit of Payne for revenge with our hero leaving the L.A. underworld a steaming crater in his wake. On film though Wayne instantly gets a sassy cocktail waitress sidekick who helps him out and lets him stay at the place she’s housesitting while they cook up the plan of “let’s follow the only guys in the bar who didn’t try to hit on her” because that means their are either gay or involved in such an important criminal enterprise they didn’t even notice how hot she was!

Midnight Heat is the sort of movie where Wayne and his girl break into a gun shop they saw a couple of guys go into and discover amidst hundreds of storage crates in the back, the exact crate that contains all the clues they need for Wayne to instantly suss out Payne’s plan. It is also the sort of movie where Wayne is wanted for the murder of his wife, but absolutely nothing ever comes of it. And he doesn’t actually ever get his memory back, everything is just explained to him.

Wayne is played by Brian Bosworth and I’ve avoided mentioning that until now because I didn’t want you to get your hopes up that this would be another Boztastic cheap action flick like Virus or Mach 2. It’s more akin to the tedious Back in Business, but so much more worse because the Boz has to act like such a ninny for much of the film. When he’s whining about how scared he is go to work at the bank after he has amnesia, you’re practically screaming at the screen “you lost your memory, not your balls, dude!”

And asking the Boz to play a mild-mannered banker and a guy who was mixed up with bank robbers is frankly way too much to ask of a guy whose main characteristic in these movies is his “I’m just cashing another paycheck and don’t really care about anything” smirk.

Come on! That’s what we love about the Boz! He knows it’s garbage just like we do! We’re all just waiting for him to shoot someone or blow something up and make some sort of knowing football reference. (To be fair, after the car accident he did mention he felt like he got run over by Bo Jackson.)

Midnight Heat‘s absurd efforts to act like it’s a modern noir thriller with its fancy dream-like flashbacks and ominous music combined with putting Boz in a role he’s completely ill-suited for and a story so pitiful a character had to be introduced at the end of the film for the sole purpose of barfing up a bunch of exposition giving us the backstory to everything that just went on, had me checking for Bo Jackson’s cleat marks on my own face and thinking I must be suffering a bout of amnesia myself because I couldn’t remember why I thought it was a good idea to watch this in the first place.

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