Sometimes movie heroes are derived from predictable occupations, such as policemen or intelligence agents, as was the case in yesterday’s column which focused on “Mission: Impossible,” a suspense film directed by Brian De Palma. De Palma is known for making stylish thrillers. In "Blow Out," a much earlier, and in the minds of many reviewers, much better film, De Palma’s hero was an unlikely one, a movie sound technician.
In “Blow Out,” John Travolta plays Jack Terry, who records sounds for B-grade horror films. One evening, as he is recording sounds for a movie, he sees a car crash into a lake. Jack dives in and is able to successfully rescue one of the passengers, Sally (played by Nancy Allen), a professional escort. At the hospital, he learns that the governor, who is a married presidential hopeful, died in the accident and that his relationship with Sally would have triggered a scandal. The governor’s henchmen convince Jack to keep quiet about the situation so that the governor’s family does not learn about his sordid affair. Later, as he is listening to his recordings from the evening, Jack hears a gunshot and realizes the car crash was no accident. Over the next several days, his involvement grows much deeper.
“Blow Out” is superbly directed. De Palma makes the film dark and suspenseful. Also, he is a master at filming action scenes. This is especially true in the climax. De Palma also does a good job showing how Jack does his job. He spends much of the movie looking for a girl with a good scream for a scene in a film he is working on.
The cast is impressive. John Travolta is excellent as Jack. He is smart and becomes obsessed with learning the truth. Also, he works hard to protect Sally. John Lithgow also puts in a first rate performance. He plays an equally smart serial killer who may be connected to the car crash.
“Blow Out" is a great choice for fans of thrillers.