Director: Vic Armstrong
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Thriller
Runtime: 106 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Joshua Tree, sometimes known as “Army of One,” is often regarded as one of Dolph Lundgren’s best solo vehicles…and it’s not hard to see why. It’s basically for action film buffs only, but, if you fit that demographic, you’ll most likely find it an enjoyable experience. The plot? Criminal Wellman Santee (Dolph Lundgren) breaks out of police custody and takes everybody on a wild, The Getaway (1972)-esque chase across the Western United States’ desert landscape. I know that’s a pretty bare-bones story description, but there’s a little bit more to it than that.
While the first half, or so, of the picture has a fair amount of action, this part of the movie is largely in thriller mode. It really makes you ask “What’s this all building up to?” in a good sort of way. Okay, okay, it’s not the most unpredictable flick ever made, but there’s an effective sense of mystery to these opening scenes that keeps the audience engaged when people aren’t getting beaten up or shot.
The second half of Joshua Tree is really when the action sequences really kick in. This film was directed by Vic Armstrong, who made a name for himself through his career as a stuntman and second unit director, and this experience must’ve really helped him. The centerpiece here is a spectacular shootout in a warehouse that works almost too well. By this, I mean that the scenes that take place after it in the runtime feel restrained in comparison. It’s an unexpected joy to see ol’ Dolph wielding a vintage Thompson submachine gun.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this movie sometimes resembles the Steve McQueen classic The Getaway. No, it’s not as good as that picture, but Joshua Tree is still a very watchable film. If all you’re looking for is an excellent gunfight, a rock-solid car chase or two, and a satisfactory, quasi-noirish plot, you could do a whole lot worse than this one. Lundgren fanatics will need to see Joshua Tree.
My rating is 7 outta 10.