Reckless (1984)

25 Mar

aidan reckless

Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Reckless” is about a bad boy and a good girl who are attracted to one another, and it’s not as much a ripoff of “The Wild One” or “Rebel Without a Cause,” because really this sort of youth melodrama is its own genre. While “Reckless” deserves credit for its proficient acting and occasionally complex drama, and it’s certainly a step up from the awful “Tuff Turf” (a similarly-themed teen film released the same year as this one), It’s not as dramatically satisfying or revealing as we would like it to be.

Aidan Quinn stars in his film debut as Johnny Rourke, a high school teenager from the wrong side of the tracks. His fellow students think he’s weird because he mostly keeps to himself and likes to ride around on his motorcycle. Oh, and he’s a deadringer in every way for James Dean’s “rebel without a cause.” He’s handsome, he’s moody, he speaks in a soft monotone, and loves to mope around.

It’s the intention that Quinn resemble James Dean, and the truth is, Quinn completely pulls it off. This could easily have been a pale imitation, but Quinn plays it with enough authenticity and conviction that really makes the role of Rourke his own. He makes us feel for his pain and angst. He’s more the rebel with a cause—he has something difficult (if uncomfortable) to deal with, and the time he spends to himself makes him more comfortable. That’s my take on the character, anyway.

Rourke has to put up with his irresponsible, lazy, drunken father, as well as working at the steel mill, being blamed for something that isn’t entirely his fault (but because he looks rough, he’s immediately to blame), and being stared upon by his fellow students who refer to themselves as “normal” compared to him. But one day at a school party, he is paired up with the girlfriend of one of the football jocks, and they share a fun dance to new wave music. This is Tracey (Daryl Hannah, very good), a good girl who, after the dance with Rourke, realizes that he is everything she is not. She has never taken chances and is the “model girl.” Rourke’s recklessness attracts her, and they spend some time together causing trouble—breaking into the school, trashing the principal’s office and classrooms, and sharing an explicit sex scene in the boiler room to 80s rock music.

That sex scene is actually one of the more original parts of the movie, which is mostly utterly predictable. We can tell where this relationship is going to go, and we know they’re going to spend some time apart before ultimately getting back together after much convincingness. I wouldn’t mind so much except that the supporting characters don’t have dimensions of their own, so we’re pretty much stuck with these two characters who feel like they’ve got no direction—well, we certainly know where this is going, for sure. Rourke’s father (Kenneth McMillan) only has a couple scenes that give us the point—and he has only one note: drunken. The football coach (Cliff de Young) is too much of a hard-case. And Tracey’s boyfriend (Adam Baldwin) is too much of a stereotypical jerky boyfriend that he is just plain boring.

It’s not enough that we have two likable characters if we can tell where the story is going and they (or rather, the screenwriter) constantly kid us with it.

I liked Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah as the two central star-crossed lovers. And the cinematography and direction is well-done. But “Reckless” needed more work done on its screenplay if it was going to be as special as a film about a bad boy and a good girl can be.

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