Film Review: Daylight (1996)

Rating: PG
Length: 1hr 54
Release: 26.12.1996
Dir: Rob Cohen
About: When a car hits a truck full of explosives, it causes an explosion in an underground tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey. Kit attempts to save the people stuck in there before the air runs out.

Currently Available on Netflix

First Thoughts

I don’t actually remember the first time I watched this, but I do remember it being a film we recorded on VHS yet still watched whenever it was on TV. The most prominent memory of this film is actually of a time when it was pulled from the schedule. It was due to be the BBC Saturday Night movie, but due to a tunnel collapse occurring that day it obviously got removed. Movie Night was a big thing for our family back then. On a Saturday, me and dad would go around to the shops, pop the lotto on and pick up a quarter of cinder toffee that we’d have with whatever film we’d watch that night.

Please be aware there may be small spoilers within.

The Good

  • This is peak Stallone for me. There’s a reason why he said this was going to be his last action movie. I also really love how he’s introduced with everyone else in that opening sequence and not really given any sort of special treatment. In fact, out of the people who end up stranded, it is Amy “Casper’s Mum” Brenneman’s Madelyne who is given the most detailed introduction.
  • Speaking of Brenneman, she is brilliant as the lead female. It appears almost as if the makers of this film were trying to recreate the chemistry of Bullock and Reeves in Speed. It by no means can be compared to the cop and the Wildcat, however I think what Stallone and Brenneman achieve is something much more realistic for a pressurised situation.
  • The scene that I truly love is the escape from the prison van. It’s not a long scene, but it tells us so much about the characters immediately involved, its high intensity heart-in-your-mouth action and it has the added benefit of bringing the 12 or so survivors together.
  • I do love that while there are some moments of mob mentality, angry and shouting where even the dog seems pissed at Kit, there is no moment in this film when anyone singles someone out for not being worthy of survival. In a scenario like this it could have been easy to have someone say that those in orange didn’t deserve help, however the film pulled down those barriers for the benefit of the bigger picture.

The Bad

  • It’s a little niggle, but with Kit (Stallone) being so close to the tunnel when it blew, I really am not fond of how the film gets him in with the rest. It feels really cheap when the reason is to fit him with a tool belt of C4. It also feels a bit like Galaxy Quest when Madison and Nesbeth are in search of the Omega drive. “Well fuck that.” As Tawny says.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about Viggo Mortensen’s character. He gets to the bottom of the shaft, almost poses while looking above him before the metal comes crashing down. I get a sense that its meant to look like he’s accepting his fate, however it hasn’t aged well and looks a bit like an attempt for humour.

The Ugly

  • There are comparisons to the original The Poseidon Adventure (1972). I don’t think that could be avoided, however even the characters who expire do so in very similar manners to the original. In fact, the only thing it didn’t do was kill the lead like they did in 1972. It is just slightly too similar to a near perfect original to not have this film loose point for copying.
  • The opening scene with the men at the compound, while interesting, really doesn’t have any value when it’s not followed up on. The cause of the collapse is never questioned and so it feels a little forced. I wonder if there was a better plan than having the Shakespearean conversation to get the movie going?

Final Thoughts

For its flaws, it’s still an excellent movie that I will watch any time its on. Post-Movie head cannon; sweet Mikey is adopted by old man Trilling. However, for those who have seen this, but haven’t given a chance on a film made before 1980, give The Poseidon Adventure a go.

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