Quicksilver (1986) – A Review
Kevin Bacon is an ex-hot shot stockbroker who lost his entire family fortune. What better way to rebuild his life than to become a bike messenger on the hilly streets of San Francisco. I guess that doesn’t seem like such a logical leap to some folks.
Doing bike tricks, navigating traffic and getting flat tires isn’t the only drama going on for an eclectic pack of bike messengers. There’s Paul Rodriguez who wants to leave his set of wheels behind and open his own hot dog stand. New biking recruit Jami Gertz who must learn the ropes of how to be a highly valued, reliable two wheeling messenger. The dangerous ‘Gypsy’ who employs bike messengers to deliver his drugs all over town and if you cross him could mean real trouble.
And of then of course Bacon, who also has life experience and talents that reach far beyond pedaling around town – is being a bike messenger something he is truly destined for or should he aspire for more?
Does this sound like a really weird movie or what??? It is…and it’s also pretty darn bad too.
I’m not sure how this movie exactly happened. It’s a strange hodgepodge of simplified story elements brought together into the world of bike messengers and none of it clicks. Nothing. Zero. The movie is a complete flat tire to keep things in bike terms.
There’s all this stuff going on and you don’t get invested in any of it. Rodriguez’s desperation to get a loan to open that hot dog stand of his seems like a such a forgettable side story you’d see in another movie, but somehow it takes up a tremendous amount of time here – and it offers up no interesting drama or payoff to it.
Gertz has a rough time as the new gal on the streets and ends up hooking up with Gypsy, which leads her being in danger by him. Again, a story that’s so basically presented there’s nothing to get invested in. Gertz agrees to do a job for him. Then she says she doesn’t want to anymore. Gypsy beats her up and tries to force her to. The way I just described the story is about as exciting as how it plays out.
Gypsy is a such an overly dramatic villain that it becomes comical. The movie presents the biking group and their fear of him as being almost a children’s version of cartoon characters being scared by a bad guy. Like, they’re students in school and when the big school bully walks down the hall everyone freezes and stares. It’s really quite silly. I still don’t know what exactly Gypsy needs these messengers to be biking all over town for him or why it’s so necessary for him to use their specific talents.
The climax (I don’t care if I’m spoiling the ending, seriously there’s no worthwhile surprises that happen) is a completely ludicrous ending with him in his car chasing biking Bacon through the streets. You start to wonder – is this the wild west? There’s no police around to go for help? Bacon just has to try to survive by outmanueving this bad guy through the city streets. It’s so downright silly you can’t take it the least bit serious.
Then there’s Bacon, who has a blonde dancer girlfriend sees more for him, he doesn’t, he likes the freedom biking through San Fran’s streets, so she leaves. That’s about it. Let’s not complicate things any further or bother with any fancy details more than that synopsis. I think the romance is there because they felt it was required to have some sort of love story and leave open the opportunity for him to hook up for a happy ending with Gertz at the end, even though they have no chemistry whatsoever. The romance is the most paint-by-numbers, pedestrian story you could create.
One of the most memorable moments from the romance story is an extremely cheesy music bike dance montage of Bacon doing bike tricks in his mammoth loft with his spandex, headband wearing gal. It’s mainly fun because seeing it you’ll be saying to yourself – “Only in the 1980’s would we see a scene like this”.
At one point Bacon returns to his stockbroking talents to help get Rodriguez some cash. There’s no excitement to the scenes. No stakes involved. Just think, Bacon is meant to have turned his back on stockbroking because he lost all the family money and destroyed his family – he goes back and swallows his pride because his friend needs money for a hot dog stand. Doesn’t that seem like a weak reason for him to have jump back to his former life? Weird.
For what it’s worth, some of the bike scenes are mildly entertaining. We get Bacon’s bike dance and some of the messengers do their own bike trick montage. Bacon and Laurence Fishburne have an okay bike race. Some of the ’80’s tunes are alright. That was a requirement for movies back in the 1980s, you need a cool soundtrack to go along with your movie. Especially with Bacon starring so soon after megahit Footloose.
The film attempts to create this eclectic band of bike messengers and we get a sneak peek into their lifestyle and camaraderie and all that stuff. It doesn’t appear to be that exciting a life or have very interesting characters. It’s somewhat interesting to see some folks show up in this in their younger years. Along with Gertz, Rodriguez and Fishburne there’s also comedian Louie Anderson. Although the heavy comedian seems like an odd casting choice to be one of the ragtag group of bike messengers. Or maybe he works the phones….I don’t know.
Overall, Quicksilver is quite the mess of a movie. I suppose if you’re the type who enjoys incredibly bad movies, have fun with them and revel in their ridiculousness you could squeeze out some cheesy nonsensical entertainment from Quicksilver. It does take itself so ultra serious there’s some unintentional laughs to be had.
I recall when it came out, how it was ignored and how quickly it disappeared. I’ve read on the internet that Bacon apparently acknowledged Quicksilver was really lousy and a mistake. He supposedly said it was the lowest point in his career. That’s the popular quote that’s out there by him, but I can’t verify he actually said that about the film.
One thing is certain, the heat he had from his breakthrough role in Footloose fizzled thanks to Quicksilver. It took Bacon quite awhile to gain a momentum again.
And because now you’re dying to see it – here’s the dance scene from Quicksilver