In order to know where we are going in any walk of life, it never hurts to know where we've been. Celebrating its 20th anniversary and now available in a brand new collector's edition, The Shadow is a highly stylized action romp in the spirit of the classic radio shows on which it was based walking a fine line between flat out action and wry comedy.
Donning his sweeping black cape and disguise, The Shadow otherwise known as Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin) fights crime in the streets of New York city and is faced with his most dangerous nemesis yet; the last descendant of the great Genghis Khan (John Lone) who not only has ties to his own mysterious past whose weapon of choice to take over not only the city but the entire world is an atomic bomb. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, will The Shadow with the help of the enigmatic Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller) be able to conquer his demons and stop this madman bent on world domination?
It's campy, it's a little cheesy and it has moments that get pretty corny...but that's exactly what it is supposed to be. The Shadow is a grossly underrated action romp that tends to get forgotten about but it was easily one of the more entertaining films of a year that included the likes of Pulp Fiction, Speed, True Lies and Forrest Gump. Director Russell Mulcahy coming off of action/fantasy films like the first two Highlander films and the equally as underrated Ricochet, crafts this witty script from David Koepp into a genuinely entertaining romp. The action is solid from end to end and Mulcahy keeps it going with an effortless flow as this material that puts us right into an old comic book radio show mindset thanks to some marvelous production design is never meant to be taken all that seriously and he guides his ensemble cast to do exactly that.
For a film that came right around the peak of his leading man powers, it is genuinely impossible to imagine anyone else in this role. He brought equal amount dramatic and emotional gravitas right alongside some classic movie star swagger and killer deadpan comedic timing which he has shown countless times in years after this. It's not often talked about but it is easily one of his better leading man performances in his entire career. Penelope Ann Miller played the role of plucky "Girl Friday" but still stunning with aplomb as she was perfect for the role with a truly great grasp of the overall material. John Lone can chew scenery with the best of them and Ian McKellen gets introduced to North American audiences well before any of them even knew who he was. The late great Peter Boyle and Jonathan Winters and some well placed comic relief right along with the iconic Tim Curry who is always good for a laugh.
The Shadow tends to get overlooked due to its campy nature, but it is still a very solid action thriller even twenty years and always puts a smile on this critics face as I get to relive the fun I had when I watched it the very first time.
4 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are quite good and the special features on the Blu-Ray include a look back with brand new interviews from the likes of director Russell Mulcahy, stars Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller, production designer Joseph Nemec III, director of photography Stephen H Burum and writer David Koepp. There's also a stills gallery and the original theatrical trailer.