David Cronenberg’s first foray into mainstream filmmaking is also one of his most satisfying pictures. Adapted from a Stephen King novel, the movie stars Christopher Walken as Johnny, a man who has been in a coma for five years and wakes up to find that he can tell a person’s fate just by touching them. Realising that he can change the future as well, Johnny soon intervenes in a number of would-be tragedies. Consequently, he soon becomes famous for his gift, but he longs for his former life, when he still had his job, his fiancee, and a normal life. However, when he shakes hands with a future president of the United States (Martin Sheen, in a wonderfully hammy performance) who could end up being the biggest mass murderer since Hitler, Johnny wrestles with what seems to be his destiny. Walken’s bravura performance forms the soul of this excellent and touching thriller.
David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father was a journalist, and his mother was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories, thus following his father’s path) and for music (playing classical guitar until he was 12), Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Literature after switching from the science department. He reached the cult status of horror-meister with the gore-filled, modern-vampire variations of Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977), following an experimental apprenticeship in independent filmmaking and in Canadian television programs.
Cronenberg gained popularity with the head-exploding, telepathy-based Scanners (1981) after the release of the much underrated, controversial, and autobiographical The Brood (1979). Cronenberg become a sort… read more
The score is really intrusive: any scene involving Walken and Adams is given a swooning, tonally jarring orchestral treatment. The plot is given a rather episodic, fragmented treatment and no one seems to be all that invested in the material except Walken. Also how many Cronenberg flicks end with stage-bound assassinations? I'm counting three at least, with this the worst among them.
I can't really pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me love this movie. It's something about the atmosphere, and how surprisingly heartfelt Walken's performance is. This is probably the least "Cronenberg" Cronenberg film, but it's one of my favorites from him, and he does a great job with the source material.