Radical Jack (1999, directed by James Allen Bradley)

Billy Ray Cyrus is Jack, a tough-as-nails former CIA agent who is still traumatized by his actions during Desert Storm and the murder of his wife by the international terrorist, Riotti (Benny Nieves).

Stop laughing.

I’ll admit that the idea of Billy Ray Cyrus, the most mild and unthreatening of mullet-headed country music stars, playing a CIA burnout who has killed countless men may sound like something to laugh about but … forget it, I’ve got nothing.  Laugh all you want because it is ridiculous casting and, throughout the film, Billy Ray looks increasingly uncomfortable with the character’s R-rated antics.  Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do, though.  When this movie was made, it’d been seven years since Achy Breaky Heart and even one-hit wonders need to pay the bills.  In 1999, reinventing Billy Ray Cyrus as a second-tier action star probably seemed like a good idea.  Billy Ray may not be the most convincing CIA agent but he’s still more likable than Steven Seagal.

Billy Ray is sent undercover to a small town in Vermont.  Somehow, by working as a bouncer at the local roadhouse, Billy Ray Cyrus is supposed to find a way to expose two local arms dealers, Lloyd (George “Buck” Flower) and Lloyd’s good for nothing son, Rolland (Noah Blake).  Lloyd and Rolland are selling weapons to Riotti so this is personal for Billy Ray.  But Billy Ray is also romancing Rolland’s ex-girlfriend, Kate (Deedee Pfeiffer) so it is personal for Rolland too.

As both an action hero and a film, Radical Jack isn’t all that radical and Billy Ray Cyrus never looks comfortable in any of the action scenes or the scenes where he makes out with Deedee Pfieffer but there are still plenty of explosions, fights, and chase scenes.  Though she doesn’t have much romantic chemistry with Billy Ray, Deedee Pfieffer gives the best performance in the film, playing Kate as someone who knows that she deserves better than what life has given her.  Radical Jack was produced by the same people who did Time Chasers and fans of that film will be happy to visit the exact same landing strip and hangar that was featured so heavily in that sci-fi epic.  There’s also a twist at the end, which you’ll see coming from miles away and Billy Ray does something unexpectedly cruel with a hand grenade.  Radical Jack did not make an action star out of Billy Ray Cyrus but, two years later, he showed an unexpected talent for comedy with his small role in Mulholland Drive.  Seven years after playing a burned-out CIA assassin, Bill Ray Cyrus found new fame as Miley Cyrus’s father and Radical Jack would never ride again.

One response to “Radical Jack (1999, directed by James Allen Bradley)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/8/23 — 5/14/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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