Streets of Fire takes place in a mythical, rock ‘n’ roll style world, “where the brave, the beautiful and he brutal combine”. Ellen Aim is a renowned singer, and ex-girlfriend of the lead protagonist, Tom Cody. When Aim is kidnapped during a live show by biker gang leader Raven(played by the great Willem Dafoe), Cody must return to his hometown to take out the trash.
Firstly, we address the film itself. It’s essentially a thrill ride- albeit one with a few minor bumps along the road. The story is somewhat generic, and feels alike to 1979’s The Warriors. That’snot a major criticism of the film- the plot is certainly serviceable, but what makes the film stand out is it’s setting, soundtrack, and the beautiful, poignant performance by Willem Dafoe.
Streets Of Fire does not take place in our world, but rather in a mythical one that runs on rock ‘n’ roll and violence. It is, in essence a squalor infested shithole. This creates an excellent claustrophobic and oppressive environment where death- either from the Bombers or the town’s corrupt police force- is a persistent threat.The soundtrack is stellar, giving the film a fast pace which gives it a certain watch-ability. It is difficult to put into words the effect of the soundtrack but trust us, it’s cracking.
In terms of performances, the protagonists are quite bland.
But in a film with Willem Dafoe, any other performances are of little consequence.
Dafoe plays Raven, leader of the bombers, with an aura of intimidation, unpredictability, and with an uncontrollable energy, which compliments the film’s fast pace. However, the director and writer of Streets Of Fire, Walter Hill, commits a mortal sin as Dafoe is severely underused. There is a missed opportunity here for more character development- after all, we see hints that Raven, in his own words, “Ain’t such a bad guy”, and Dafoe’s word, as we all should know, is law. Dafoe is so enjoyable to watch, from his initial kidnapping of Ellen Aim, to the climactic sledgehammer battle, that I would sum up his performance thusly: If Dafoe is like cocaine, and he is, then we, the viewers at home, are like humble drug addicts, desperate for our next fix, and never fully satisfied until Dafoe makes his next appearance.
In scoring the film we chose to award it a 3.5/5, however, the film features Willem Dafoe, so we cannot, in good conscience, submit this review without awarding the film another point, in the name of Dafoe. We therefore give Streets Of Fire an excellent 4.5/5. In Willem We Trust.
“I’ll be comin’ for her. I’ll be comin’ for you, too.”