01 August 2010


Twelve Things about The Package

12. Have I ever mentioned my strange attraction to the media of the Cold War era? Thrillers, Comedies, Dramas, Cartoons . . . Bring them on!

11. I do admit that nothing dates a movie more than the Cold War does. (Of course, I'm also open to suggestions.)

Maybe I'm just being an 80s Baby again (You think? LOL!), but the Soviet style of Communism seems trapped in the same time warp of fads that claimed the DeLorean.

Today, it's different brands of Communism that worry our days, my "favourite" being radical feminism . . . and nuclear war is still as much a threat as before, but now it comes mostly from Israel. And modern media isn't half as fascinated by these trends, possibly because the two don't feed off each other . . . unless, perhaps, radical feminists are running the Israeli military . . . and even then, who would green light a Thriller about that?

10. Does anyone else ever cry out in silent joy: "Tommy Lee Jones is here! The movie is saved!!!"

Not that the movie wasn't going well until Jones' character showed up, but my usual burst of happiness was unusually strong when he entered the story.

9. That burst of happiness is probably why I couldn't believe, for much of the movie, that Jones' character was the villain. Maybe I was just superimposing the images I was watching with memories of The Fugitive (also directed by Andrew Davis). But there really is something disarming and trustworthy about this actor.

8. When I watch believable Hollywood veterans like Jones and Hackman, I weep inwardly at the thought that I am living in the age of Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. My children will hold this against me.

7. Joanna Cassidy is great, sliding into her role as Colonel Eileen Gallagher the way Sigourney Weaver slides into the many versions of Ellen Ripley. But the greater context of the feminist anschluss into military politics leaves a bad smell, no matter what. (Oh, look! Radical feminism and military politics again!)

There is no reason this character couldn't have been male--another one of the hero's former army friends (as was Dennis Franz's character, who stands out in every scene he is in). Then again, she is his ex-wife, which makes her, I admit, just a different sort of combat buddy. And it is true that Shredded Cheddar is a great supporter of girls in adventures . . .

So let's go back to that first sentence . . . Joanna Cassidy is great! =)

6. And now I wish the filmmakers had beefed up John Heard's role. When we see him at the beginning as the tight-assed General giving our by-the-book hero an unfair dressing down, we are given a hint (although we may not know it yet) that the real conflict is not between the US and the USSR, but between these two men. I really like it when International Conspiracy Thrillers (Yes, they're their own Cold War Movie subgenre) can have a rich, rather than just incidental human component. Yet our three leads (and Franz) do a great job, anyway.

5. I had to review this movie for Atlas TV Guide, as well as come up with a question for the reader that would be able to answer only by watching the movie. My question was:

"What is the message on the sign
behind which [the assassin] waits for his target?"

And yeah, if you really want to know the answer,
you'll have to watch it, too.

4. Although the movie was released in August 1989, it is set during December 1989--which, as anyone who knows his Cold War history can tell you, means the story takes place in an alternate universe. (Hint: What happened in Berlin on November 1989?) I actually like this bit of unfortunate timing; it makes The Package the last of the real Cold War movies. Everything that came after was no longer commentary on the present but analysis of the past.

Besides, the Christmas setting is made meaningful. =)

3. Someone hand the villains the handbook they're supposed to have so that they don't:

a) abduct the hero and bring him to their secret lair . . . instead of killing him on the spot
b) tie him up in a room where he can see all their plans . . . instead of killing him on the spot
c) explain more of their secret plans and then knock him out . . . instead of killing him on the spot
d) give him milk and cookies to insult him . . . instead of killing him on the spot

Sometimes I think that I should be a villain! I'd certainly do a better job than this. (Hubris speaking, of course.)

(But the milk and cookies were a very cute touch . . .
as was what the hero did with them.)

2. Then there's Davis' director handbook. Was I wrong to roll my eyes when I saw that every single Russian-American woman in his movie is wearing a babushka? Is that like putting Japanese-American women in kimonos or is it more culturally neutral?

1. "If we get separated, meet at my house!" Believe it or not, that is my favourite line from the whole movie. It's the sort of thing you can say only in a world without mobile phones . . . a world I still belong to. =P

Image Source: The Package poster


Paul Stilwell said...

What, I don't believe I've watched this very goodly sounding movie!

I found it hard believe Jones as the villain in Under Siege, though it was released before The Fugitive. I think watched The Fugitive first anyways. In Under Siege the best he could get away with was "crazy" villain, rather than "deep-seated evil" villain.

I like very much your Number 1; when people were still under the wonderful rule of geographical place and time. Well, people still are; we just ignore it.

For some reason it made me think of the evenings playing kick-the-can as a kid. Why would that be?

Enbrethiliel said...


It says a lot about Hackman, Jones, Cassidy and even Franz that they did so much for what is, script-wise, just an average movie.

Now I see I should also watch Under Siege, just to see Jones do crazy. Up until the very end of The Package, I kept expecting him to reveal he was actually a double-agent and really on Hackman's side! (I would have said so in the main post, but it seemed so spoilery . . . which makes me wonder if should also be saying it here . . . Oh, well!)

I guess my refusal to get my own mobile (which will have to change soon because I'm getting steady work again) is my own way of ignoring that "wonderful rule of geographical place and time." Because, you know, my loyalty to the 80s is unrivaled.

Belfry Bat said...

Can't say much about either this or Under Siege... I suppose Jones as Two Face in Tim Burton's Batman Forever is too cartoonish to be believable? Come to think of it, the most believable performance in that movie is probably O'Donnel's, which isn't saying much... apart from the Alfred, that is. Now, why don't I know that actor's real name?

Gene Hackman... that reminds me of another funny thing... I used to think Christopher Walken was such a chameleon, and I was raving about this to my younger brother "on the one hand there's Batman Returns, or that kidnapping movie with Denzel... but then there's Mission Impossible ---" "--- or Enemy of the State" whereat Brother interrupted me to say "actually, those were Jon Voight."

So... I'll just... flap off with my irrelevance now.

Enbrethiliel said...


Alfred is like Q, I think. He seems to be always cast right and interpreted right.

And now you have me wondering about Christopher Walken and John Voight . . . Really, has anyone ever seen them in the same room together?!?!?! Hmmmmm!