Ridley Scott’s latest movie couldn’t be more brainlessly racist unless he had called it Black Lain. Michael Douglas, who joined in the exploitation of AIDS dread in Fatal Attraction and the nation’s nascent hatred of Michael Milken-types in Wall Street, tries to use Black Rain to turn a profit on our fear and loathing of Japan, Inc.
Fatal Attraction was gripping yet stupid; Wall Street was less gripping, but redeemed by Douglas’ vein-popping performance as Godzilla’s fiscal equivalent. Black Rain (not to be confused with the Japanese movie of the same title that’s still in theaters) is exceptionally stupid, dull as dirt, and weighed down by what may be Douglas’ most boring performance. As a lone Western gunslinger in the inscrutable East, he’s a cliché, a throwback to the days of the white man’s burden.
The contrived plot concerns a Japanese mob counterfeiting U.S. currency — yet another sneaky attempt to undermine our economy. But the sluggish story is almost beside the point. Black Rain is designed to punch the xenophobe’s buttons, to give Douglas some straight action scenes, and to let director Scott paint gorgeous pictures with light (it resembles Scott’s Blade Runner without the sci-fi film noir atmosphere — that is, without the imagination).
At one point, Douglas’ Japanese cop counterpart bellows, ”Now music and movies are all America is good for! We make the machines, we build the future, we won the peace!” If Black Rain is any indication, we can’t even make movies anymore. D