This is the fifth movie in my Ridley Scott retrospective.
Black Rain is certainly not Ridley Scott’s best movie (far from it), but at least he returned to his visual esthetics as seen in Blade Runner. In fact, Black Rain could be seen as an extension of Blade Runner. The same smoky, neon-lit, grimy atmosphere that made Blade Runner so remarkable can be seen here, but this time it is modern day Japan we are shown.
Scott takes us on a journey to Osaka where Michael Douglas, playing a gruff New York cop, takes on the yakuza, after he witnesses a murder in New York committed by the same yakuza. He doesn’t know what he is getting himself into before it is too late. Douglas in the ’80s could always be depended upon to deliver an intense lead performance. It is the same here. He is committed, maybe even more than is to be expected from him giving the pulpy material he has to work with.
Black Rain’s plot takes off running and takes more turns than a winding mountain road. And those turns are not always the most logical ones. The script is full of the typical Ugly American stuff where Douglas doesn’t know how to behave in front of the Japanese. This leads to some awkward stereotyping for both sides, but hey, these were the ’80s, so anything was possible.
The main thing here is that Black Rain hasn’t aged very well. Sensibilities have changed, Hans Zimmer’s score is hopelessly outdated, the runtime is way too long, and on top of that the movie takes itself way too serious. I am not going to give away the plot, but let’s just say that the outcome isn’t all that believable. At least Black Rain is still a very nice movie because of the visuals, thanks to Jan De Bont.