Part criminological essay, part revenge thriller, this adaptation of John Godey's novel The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome casts Mickey Rourke as freakish villain John. Shunned even by the criminal fraternity, he's left carrying the can for a brutal robbery by ruthless associates (Barkin and Henriksen) who also kill his only friend (Wilson). At this stage the mood becomes uncertain; a surgeon (Whitaker) links recidivism with physical deformity, and decides to perform plastic surgery. But will good looks prevent Johnny's return to crime? Jaded cop (Freeman) doesn't think so; Johnny's new girlfriend (McGovern) hopes they will. The look of the film, at least, is fixed; the New Orleans backdrop assumes sinister, noirish hues, and the action sequences are crisp and agressive. Barkin and Henriksen perform with relish, Whitaker and Freeman are pleasantly understated. Rourke tries harder than ever to minimise, nay obscure, his good looks, a process which merely serves to emphasise them. 'You guys did a good job' utters Johnny as he emerges from bandages with the face of a heart-throb. Hollywood can bear only so much gloom.
Cast and crew