|Covenant star Steven Strait plays Caleb, possessor of an ancient, untold power passed from father to son: explosive flatulence. Right: director Renny Harlin also wields this power.|
This week, the guy who Geena Davis divorced for destroying her career, is back with his latest cinematic tour de force, The Covenant. It’s about — and don’t laugh — four prep-school teens with supernatural powers who struggle to keep their secret until a fifth student demands that they hand over their powers or (gasp) be destroyed. Seriously, that’s the pitch. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t look at me. Even Harlin’s own website can’t offer up a decent plot explanation for this future-modern classic.
Few in Hollywood manage to so consistently produce groan-worthy cinematic bombs that lose more money than most Third World countries’ annual GDPs, but Harlin — determined to be the best at what he does, perhaps — manages to outperform all of his peers in this department. After starting off his career with a bang — Die Hard 2 (1990) and Cliffhanger (1993) — he met and fell in love with Amazon Geena Davis and, perhaps in the midst of a post-coital embrace (during which she consoled his nagging sense of cinematic inadequacy?), he convinced her that playing a pirate would be a grand idea. The resulting debacle, Cutthroat Island (1995), torpedoed Carolco Pictures — we’re talking about the company that had only recently scored big with Terminator 2 — and sent them spiraling into bankruptcy. And not the kind you get out of. After producing a string of hits for more than a decade, Carolco was permanently sunk.
Was Harlin exiled for so incompetently squandering Carolco’s largesse? Did Hollywood turn its back on him and line their dogs’ cages with his headshots? Was even one fatwa issued against him? Absolutely not. Even worse, Harlin managed to convince both Davis and execs at New Line to work with him again, which is how The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) came to be. Now, Long Kiss was written by Shane Black, the guy who wrote the Lethal Weapon movies, so it isn’t a complete waste of your time. Plus, it’s got Samuel L. Jackson in one of his most ass-kickingest roles, which is cool,