A famed example of compromised vision, Hal Ashby’s final theatrical feature may as well have been an Alan Smithee credit as he was removed from the film just days after principal photography wrapped. A notoriously fickle — if not all together difficult — figure in the film industry, Ashby’s behavior on and off set was a cause for concern of the producers. And it’s easy to see why when watching the film, which — despite studio tinkering — still feels like the product of a lot of cocaine and reckless abandon.
Based on a hard-boiled novel by Lawrence Block and adapted into screenplay form by (similarly troublesome) Oliver Stone — later to be rewritten by an uncredited Robert Towne — 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE combines the shaggy dog crime theatrics of something like THE LONG GOODBYE with the violent, flashy ’80s excesses of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. But the surprise here is how good it ultimately ends up being. Sure, it’s far from mentionable in the same breath as many of Ashby’s other films but as a piece of grimed up crime cinema from the decade of neon and cocaine, it’s suitably wild and anchored by a great, boozy performance from Jeff Bridges. All things considered, there wasn’t much better, or characteristic, of a way for Ashby to go out on.
Tags: Action Film, Adaptations, Adventure, Alexandra Paul, Andy Garcia, Books, Booze, Columns, Crime, Hal Ashby, James Avery, James Newton Howard, Jeff Bridges, Lawrence Block, Los Angeles, Luisa Leschin, Neo-Noir, Oliver Stone, R. Lance Hill, Randy Brooks, Robert Lawrence, Robert Towne, Rosanna Arquette, Stephen H. Burum, Stuart H. Pappé, The 1980s, Thrillers, Tiny Lister, Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr., Tommy Lister, Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Vyto Ruginis, Wilfredo Hernández