Mickey Rourke and Don Johnson are the respective title characters in the brand-name "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man" - but the film might as well be called "The Biker and the Cowboy" and star Brian Bosworth and Jeff Speakman.
Earlier this year, Bosworth's "Stone Cold" and Speakman's "Perfect Weapon" were attempts to thrust them into the B-movie action arena. And their films were typical of the genre - wall-to-wall explosions, gunfire, fisticuffs, car chases, profanity, and in the case of "Stone Cold," some nudity.
Character development was minimal, acting was non-existent and plotting was somewhere below the level of Neanderthal.
In other words, they were typical action-filled no-brainers.
There's an audience for this stuff, of course. And someday someone will cut through all that story and character nonsense and just string a bunch of mayhem sequences together and call it a movie. Until then, "Stone Cold," "Perfect Weapon" and, yes, "Harley and Marlboro" are close enough.
The budget may be twice as high, but "Harley and Marlboro" is just as stupid as anything Steven Seagal has ever made. And though Rourke and Johnson do seem to have a kind of weird chemistry together, let's not try to analyze it. Suffice it to say, "Lethal Weapon" it ain't.
Rourke is "Harley." He's a biker, of course, with a leather jacket, a short haircut, an earring and a scar. He's also supposed to be philosophical, spouting hip phrases like, "It's better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool."
Johnson is "Marlboro." He's originally from Las Vegas and once rode in a rodeo, so he wears a cowboy hat and vest, along with boots that are falling apart (he tapes them together and won't tell Harley why he insists on keeping them), and has a short beard. He's also philosophical, beginning each of his folksy expressions with, "As my Daddy used to say, before he left this (expletive) world. . . ."
They ride around on motorcycles, of course, and seem to specialize in barroom brawls, hustling pool and avoiding anything resembling responsibility.
How cool can you get?
Eventually, the plot unfolds: For a noble cause - to save a friend's bar - they decide to hold up a bank's cash truck. They pull it off, but unfortunately the bank is a front for mobsters, and Harley and Marlboro have mistakenly ripped off a cache of drugs.
Naturally, they become targets for hit men, led by Daniel Baldwin, hulking brother of Alec ("The Hunt for Red October") and William ("Backdraft"). Vanessa Williams also has a small role, which looks as abbreviated as her last cutting-room floor experience, "Another You."
"Harley and Marlboro" is set in the near future, which allows a billboard to display an ad for "Die Hardest 5" and Burbank, Calif., to be turned into an international airport. But there's no real sense of the future in this movie and the motif seems a superfluous ploy.
In fact, "Harley and Marlboro" isn't really about anything, except giving work to stunt men and explosives experts. And perhaps female extras willing to doff their blouses.
Rourke and Johnson are adequate in their roles, but they aren't ever really called upon to do anything besides brood, spout a homily or two and run from explosions. The supporting cast is wasted, especially Chelsea Field as Johnson's romantic interest. (Women are merely window dressing in movies like this.)
There are some exciting action scenes, though. And maybe that's enough to get you through the rest.
Believe it or not, Simon Wincer, who has given us such rich entertainment as "Quigley Down Under," "Phar Lap" and the superlative TV miniseries "Lonesome Dove," directed this tripe. The script is by actor Don Michael Paul, most recently seen in "Rich Girl." I don't know which is worse, the thought of seeing future films he's written or future films he might appear in.
Loud, violent and dumb, "Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man" deserves its R rating for violence, profanity, nudity, sex and vulgarity.