|Olympian (and former bike messenger) Nelson Vails' opening cameo as "Messenger in Maroon Beret" is probably the highlight of the film.|
|Stock trader Bacon has what must be the douchiest little mustache in Hollywood film history.|
|"Sorry dad, I blew your entire life's savings on a single risky trade - you know, 'cuz I'm a really gifted stockbroker."|
So rather than picking himself up and trying to rebuild himself (like his stock trading partners all seemed to have been able to do), he spends a lot of time aimlessly walking the city's crowded streets and growing out his hair. . .
Until he has an epiphany in front of a second-hand store:
|Cue the angelic chorus.|
|And before you know it, Jack's making a living at his new dream job - mixing it up with traffic, and wearing Vails's old maroon beret.|
|Like Flashdance, but with a bike. I think there was some requirement back then that all post-industrial loft dwellers be aspiring dancers.|
|And of course all the bike messengers routinely take time out of their busy day to jam to some tunes on their boombox and start break-dancing (or at least, bike-dancing) in the middle of the street. You know, 'cuz it's the '80s.|
Most of the film was shot in San Francisco, though I understand a few bits were shot in LA and NYC -- to give the film sort of a generic un-specified urban setting. One of the few scenes that makes the location obvious is the mano a mano messenger race between Kevin Bacon's Jack Casey vs. Laurence Fishburne's shady badass "Voodoo."
|Catchin' some air. If they didn't get stunt-riders for that jump, I'm going to say that's actually pretty impressive.|
There's a whole sub-plot in the film where messengers like Voodoo get caught up running drugs for "Gypsy," the local bad-guy drug dealer (who is almost never seen outside of his POS Ford sedan), and of course that doesn't work out well for any streetwise messenger who goes in for earning the fast easy money.
|Bad-guy drug dealer.|
|Dead bike messenger.|
|Paul Rodriquez plays Hector Rodriquez (clever!) - whose dream of moving up in life is to earn enough as a bike messenger to buy a hot dog cart. Hey, a guy's got to dream.|
|We have culturally sensitive nicknames, like Apache and Voodoo.|
|Uptight parents . . . they just don't understand.|
|Uptight stockbroker friends . . . they just don't understand.|
|Uptight dancer girlfriends . . . they just don't understand.|
|"Numbers numbers numbers BUY! Numbers numbers more numbers SELL!"|
|"Numbers numbers numbers. BUY! Numbers BUY! BUY!" Looks like Hector's getting his hotdog cart after all.|
But that's not enough of a climax for the film, because Gypsy, the bad-guy drug dealer, is after Terri now, which leads to a final showdown.
|Street-smart bike messengers stick together . . .|
|. . . bad-guy drug dealer destroys their source of income.|
|Oddly enough, it's like the middle of the night and really dark when the chase scene begins . . .|
|. . . then suddenly it's daylight. How long was this chase supposed to be going on?|
|Somehow Jack fools the bad guy into driving off an incomplete bridge.|
|"Should we have pizza or Chinese, or what?"|
"I was thinking Chinese would be good."
"But I really wanted pizza."
"Wait, wait, I know the perfect place . . ."
|In the opening sequence where Nelson Vails is racing Jack's taxi cab, we see a closeup of Vails shifting gears. He pushes the lever forward all the way, and we then see his derailleur moving up to his lowest gear. Ahhhh . . . no.|
Speaking of the bikes, Raleigh USA, which was actually American Huffy with a British name placed on bikes made in Japan and Taiwan, must have put up some money and/or other support for the film. Most of the bikes used in the film (or at least the ones that can be seen with any clarity) are Raleigh USA models from about '84 - '85.
I understand that Nelson Vails (who was sponsored by Raleigh USA at one point) did offer some technical advice for the film, and provided some insight on the life of bike messengers. Also, Kevin Bacon spent about four months prior to filming training on a fixed gear track bike - some of it riding with a former messenger (who was also one of the screenwriters) in NYC - to get ready for the role. I give him credit because there are several scenes in the film where he performs some tricks or stunts on the bike, and it's clearly Bacon and not a stunt double.
When Quicksilver came out in 1986, it opened to mostly lackluster or downright negative reviews.
Roger Ebert wrote: "Quicksilver is a collision between realism and gloss, between a story that demands to be told at street-level and a style that looks inspired by music videos. The movie has moments when it comes to life, when it threatens to tell a story about interesting people, and then it wanders off into inane scenes designed only to sell records."
Walter Goodman of the New York Times wrote: "As long as the characters are doing stunts or whizzing impossibly through city traffic to a strong rock beat, there's something to watch. For the rest of the time, Quicksilver is as much fun as a slow leak."
And currently, the movie rating website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 13% on their Tomatometer. By comparison, Bacon's 1990 film Tremors, which I believe was intended to be an ironically bad tongue-in-cheek sendup of 1950s B-movie monster flicks has a score of 85%. Kevin Bacon himself is reported to have called Quicksilver one of the lowest points in his career.
I was a student at Kent State when the film came out, and I remember our university bike club hosted a screening of the film. We actually enjoyed it - or rather, we enjoyed ourselves mostly poking fun of it. But fun is fun.
Needless to say, Quicksilver is hardly a must-see movie. But sometimes cheesy bad can still be fun. And if you're looking to satisfy that itch where nothing but an 80s pop music video masquerading as gritty drama about plucky street-smart bike messengers will do, what else are you gonna watch?