Armageddon (1998) (part 3 of 13)
Okay, so let’s take inventory here. The earth is doomed, New York City has been mostly destroyed, pandemonium is ensuing from “Finland to South Carolina”… And on an oil drilling platform in the South China Sea (as the caption informs us), Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) is playing golf? I find this hard to swallow. Has he not been following the news? It would seem so, because he acts as if he hasn’t a care in the world.
He takes a swing, watches it fly for a moment, and then yells out, “Rise and shine!” [?] The errant ball hits a boat full of protesters chanting, “Stop the drilling!” over and over again. Apparently, Harry is playing a game of miniature golf in the middle of the ocean, and his intended target is a Greenpeace boat. Also, I don’t know if this was Bay’s little joke or not, but the Greenpeace protestors have the word “pollution” misspelled [!] on their professionally-made signs.
Harry turns to his buddy Chick (played by Will Patton) and asks, “What do you suppose they’re so mad about?” If I were Chick, I would have answered, “Well, if there was a guy standing on a drilling platform repeatedly launching golf balls at me, I’d be pretty pissed too.” Instead, Chick takes the easy way out and answers, “Well, I think they feel that drilling for oil is an evil thing.”
Chick then completely changes the subject, revealing that he “just found out something interesting.” While I know that everyone defines the word “interesting” in different ways, I still have to scratch my head at why Chick would deem the revelation that “number two chewed up a hundred eighty feet last night” interesting.
Harry apparently disagrees, finding this factoid to be worthy of his attention. He asks who they have to “thank” for that, and Chick replies demurely, “I’ll give you two guesses, but you’re only going to need one.” This sends Harry into a fit of rage. He flings his golf club out into the ocean, but interestingly enough, not at the Greenpeace boat, which seems to have completely disappeared. Hmm, might they have gotten wise and sailed their way right on out of this movie? One can only hope.
Suddenly, Harry is at Ben Affleck’s on-site quarters, screaming “AJ!” and banging on the door with the same golf club he just threw in the ocean. Amazing things, those golf clubs. Not only do they hit those all important holes-in-one, they apparently can double for battering rams and boomerangs as well. Harry forces the door open with Miracle Club (TM, patent pending) and barges in shouting.
AJ is startled awake, and immediately acts as though he’s hiding something. We see a female foot draw itself up under the covers, so it looks like AJ was doing a bit of drilling of his own last night, wink wink.
Harry is oblivious to all of this, however, and only berates AJ for disobeying his orders about “number two”. And I know this is childish, but couldn’t they have picked another name for this piece of equipment? Any other name? Constantly hearing them refer to “number two” has me thinking of… well, actually, to be honest, this entire movie has me thinking of that.
After Harry gets done with his lecture, he says he wants to hear five words out of AJ. Let’s see, “I need a new agent”? Nope. Try “I’ll never do that again.” AJ says these five words a bit too sincerely, and is a bit too eager to apologize, so Harry starts to suspect that something’s up.
AJ justifies his frenzied behavior by saying, “I screwed up. I’m a little edgy.” Edgy? AJ’s acting like a junkie in search of his next fix. That’s not edgy, my friend. That’s pure-dee guilty.
Harry tells AJ to zip it and uses Miracle Club (TM, patent pending) to pick up a bra. AJ acts surprised by this, saying he’s at “a loss for words.” He then utters the same line used by teens and cheating spouses the world over: “I can explain this!” Hey, it’s a classic.
“You can explain this?” Harry asks, holding Miracle Club (TM, patent pending) up to AJ’s throat [!]. He then uses Miracle Club (TM, patent pending) to rake the blankets back and reveal none other than Grace (played by Liv Tyler) in AJ’s bed. Harry is stunned, AJ is humiliated, and Grace is blasé. She sits up in bed and greets him calmly. “Hi, Harry.”
Harry momentarily forgets the compromising position he’s just found her in and yells, “I have asked you repeatedly to call me Dad!” [?] Grace doesn’t bat an eye, and only halfheartedly apologizes. “Sorry, Harry.”
Harry looks down at his daughter with that ever-present scowl on his face. “Get up and get your clothes on!” Grace looks to AJ, who in typical braveheart fashion avoids eye contact with her.
Harry tells AJ, “You stay right there. I’ll be right back.” The minute Harry heads out the front door, AJ runs out the back and leaps across an obstacle course of pipes [?]. It took me two viewings to actually get what he was trying to do, and I have to say, I still don’t understand why. Oh, well. Welcome to this movie. Not the first nonsensical moment, and certainly not the last.
From that compelling scene, we cut to Truman and his men back at NASA. Truman is really taking charge here, rallying his troops and mining them for strategies.
|Truman: Any ideas, any programs, anything you’ve sketched on a pizza box or a cocktail napkin [?]. For thirty years, they’ve questioned the need for NASA. Today, we’re gonna give them the answer!|
After that awe-inspiring speech, it’s back to Harry going through guns and ammunition while nearby stands a guy with bad teeth in a safari hat. Bad Teeth Guy turns out to be Rockhound, played by Hollywood’s favorite Bad Teeth Guy, Steve Buscemi. Harry asks if he knew about this, but Rockhound insists he had “no idea.” Harry says nothing more and leaves with a rifle.
Okay, conclusions I’m drawing from this moment: Harry is either going to a) shoot AJ for sleeping with his daughter, b) shoot his daughter for repeatedly refusing to call him Dad, or c) shoot his manager for getting him this crummy part.
Meanwhile, AJ’s running around like a chicken with his head cut off and yelling, “Where’s Harry?” He finally spots him through the window of an office and calls out, “I understand! I know you’re mad!” I think “mad” is an understatement here, AJ. The guy’s aiming a loaded gun at you.
Shadowed Bystander states the obvious: “He’s gonna shoot you.” Well, thanks for that news update, Peter Jennings. AJ seems confident that Harry won’t really do it, but Harry instantly proves him wrong by firing a shot that shatters the window. So, AJ, do you believe him now?
Harry pokes his gun through the window and encourages AJ to “make your peace with God!” AJ continues to run around like a ruptured duck, screaming, “He’s got a gun! He’s shooting at me!” Meanwhile, Grace is somewhere else on the platform yelling, “Harry, this is not funny!”
While AJ is running for his life, he meets up with Michael Clarke Duncan of The Green Mile fame. AJ explains the situation and asks Duncan to “crack” Harry with his wrench when he sees him.
Harry, meanwhile, meets up yet again with Chick. Chick dares to ask, “Is this a serious thing?” Calmly, Harry replies, “Pretty serious.” Chick reminds Harry that he promised AJ’s dad just before he died that he’d take care of the boy. Then he utters the best line of the movie so far: “And I’m not sure that shooting him is taking care of him.”
As Harry and Chick continue on, Michael Clarke Duncan does his civic duty by blocking their way and brandishing a wrench almost as a big as he is. He suggests to Harry, “Why don’t you put the gun down?” Harry points the rifle at him. “You don’t want any of this, Bear. Get out of my way.” Bear obliges. “I’m trying to give my man a head start, that’s all.” [?] Well, he was certainly helpful.
Chick doesn’t seem to want to shut up, and he continues to harp, “Not to mention the fact that I don’t think you want to kill the best man on your crew before we strike oil!” If I were Harry right now, I would say the hell with Chick and just shoot him. However, he simply assures Chick that he’s not going to kill AJ. No, he’s just going to “take a foot off him”, rationalizing that a man can still work with one foot [!].
Harry brings up Frank Marx, who worked “all them years” with only one hand. Chick once more inserts his two cents with, “Yeah, but he wasn’t very good.”
At this point, Grace appears on a catwalk above her father and yells, “Put the gun down, you’re acting insane!” Insane? Our Harry? No way! “Now, honey,” Harry calls back. “Go get some clothes on and get out of the way!” Grace is enraged. “You can’t control my life!” Harry aims his gun. Um, I’m thinking maybe he can. He says, “Fine! [?]Clothes! Now!” Wisely, Grace flees.
Harry continues to shoot at AJ, who says that this was “funny for a minute” but it isn’t funny anymore. You mean to tell me it was funny at first? Oh, of course! A man chasing you all over the place with a loaded rifle. That’s my idea of a good time!
More chasing and shooting follows, with AJ even rappelling down a rope just because it looks “kewl”. AJ is finally found cowering by Harry and his entourage of Bear, Chick, and the gun. Harry fires a single shot before AJ stands up and says that they need to talk “man to man. I’m serious! I love her.”
Harry yells, “Way wrong answer!” and fires another shot. This one strikes a light, sending sparks flying everywhere. This provides one of the movie’s funnier moments as AJ dances a jig in one spot and screams like a girl. Either the bullet hit its target, or he’s having a good old fashioned freak-out. Either way, it’s pretty hilarious.
Now it’s time for Chick to become the voice of reason. Yes, I realize that sentence was an oxymoron. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Harry. It’s getting real.” Since he never bothers to elaborate, we may never know where he was going with that. Real comical? Real pathetic? Real annoying? The possibilities are endless.
Grace appears out of nowhere and screams, “You shot him!” Harry insists the bullet “never came close” and that it’s “just a ricochet.” AJ then shouts, “It’s all funny till someone gets shot in the leg!” [!!] Words to live by.
Abruptly, there’s a shot of Steve Buscemi opening his mouth as wide as possible and showcasing his mouth full of crooked teeth as he yells, “Hey, pucker up [?]! We got clients incoming!” As he shouts this, a helicopter flies overhead.
Back at NASA, a fat, stammering middle aged man stands at a table with several other fat middle-aged men. “Uh, b-back in-in-in 1974, we-we first got the-the idea—the-the possibility that-that a meteor or an asteroid—” Truman interrupts. “I need someone that’s had a little less caffeine this morning.” He turns to a guy he calls “Doc” and asks him to “translate.”
Getting his moment in the spotlight, Doc confidently replies that their first feasible plan is to use a spread focus laser generator to heat the object to the point of fracture. Truman shoots this down too, saying that his suggestion would be like “firing a BB gun at a freight train.” Man, maybe Truman’s problem is he could use a little more caffeine this morning. Nobody wins with him.
Another fat middle-aged man, feeling particularly brave, stands up with a diagram and says that some of them had the idea to land a craft and deploy solar sails, creating a great big canopy. It’s really quite impressive. They have props and models and everything. If this were the third grade, they would win the science fair, hands down.
Truman, however, is not impressed. “Come on, guys! We’ve got to come up with something realistic here!” Well, way to shoot down a boy’s dream, Billy Bob. He then rants that there’s only eighteen days and time is a luxury they don’t have, and on this line we cut to a big green digital clock that’s counting down the seconds. Just then, a guy with glasses and an armload of papers appears and Truman asks what he wants.
Cut to Harry standing outside on his oil platform, and in the background is the helicopter that was flying overhead earlier. Grace, fully clothed now in a black geisha-type dress with chopsticks in her hair, gives her father a lecture of her own. She says that AJ was her choice. “Not yours.”
Harry points out that AJ’s the only guy around in her age bracket, so it’s not so much a choice as a lack of options. Got her there. Grace continues whining, saying she doesn’t know what gives him the right to try to control her life. Harry throws out the fact that he’s her father, but Grace says that doesn’t count ever since she turned ten and became older than him [?].
|Grace: Look, I understand that you were handicapped by a natural immaturity and I forgive you.|
Harry says he may be an immature father, but he’s still her boss. He orders her on a crew boat that night and back in the office by Monday. Grace, calm as ever, replies, “Okay. I quit.” She walks away and Harry follows right behind her. “Grace! You can’t quit! I need you to keep on workin’!”
Grace ignores him and walks right toward the people that were on the helicopter, three Chinese people who are obviously VIPs. Grace converses with them in Chinese and then one of the guys gives Harry a thumbs up and yells out, “Hi, Harry!” Um, dude, I wouldn’t bother him right now. It hasn’t quite been his morning.
Grace then turns around and informs her father that she’s been seeing AJ for more than five months. I guess the joke in this scene is that the VIPs from the helicopter don’t understand English, so they’re completely unaware of all the extremely personal things that Harry and Grace talk about here. Ha ha! Those zany Chinese! They speak a language that’s different from ours!
Harry calls her “a little hypocrite” [?] and asks if he ever held her back from doing anything. She then relates a cringe-worthy tale of the first time she got her period, and I’ll spare you all by not repeating it. You can thank me later.
Grace continues to rant about what a terrible father he was as everyone gets an earful. She says she was raised around roughnecks all her life, so why should he be surprised when she falls in love with one? She then says Harry’s the one who’s a hypocrite. He points at some pipes to divert the attention of the VIPs, then looks at her. “You listen to me, Grace,” he begins.
“No, you listen to me, Harry. I grew up.” This all sounds like an after-school special gone very, very awry. Why did it take five minutes for her to explain that she’s grown up? What purpose did it serve? What purpose did any of this serve? My head is pounding trying to figure it all out.
From here, it’s back to NASA to check in on Uncle Billy Bob and his delightful crew of overweight middle-aged underachievers. The people sitting before him now, however, appear to be a more accomplished group than before. They’re wearing military uniforms, and Truman is much more patient with them.
Scary General is among them, and he suggests they just send up 150 nuclear warheads and blast the rock apart. The same guy with glasses that had so many papers in his hand nods, sips his coffee, and replies, “Terrible idea.” Hey now! It’s Truman’s job to shatter dreams!
Scary General doesn’t take that lying down. He glares across the table and asks, “Was I talking to you?” Truman does the introductions at that point, saying that Glasses Guy is Dr. Ronald Quincy from Research. Dr. Quincy? Dr. Ronald Quincy? From Research? Well, that changes everything! Truman pronounces him to be “pretty much the smartest man on the planet” [!] and says the General “might wanna listen to him.”
Dr. Quincy, quite cocky at this point, says they could fire every nuke they had at the asteroid and “she would just smile at you and keep on coming.” It can’t be bargained with! It can’t be reasoned with! Scary General, refusing to be deterred, brings all the President’s men into it, saying that they think a nuclear blast could change the asteroid’s trajectory. In other words, so there!
Still quite cocky, Quincy says he knows the President’s Chief Scientific Advisor and that in this situation, it might not be wise to take the advice of a man who got a “C minus in astrophysics.” In other words, so there, times infinity plus one. I’m expecting these two to start blowing raspberries at each other at any second.
Quincy says the “President’s advisor’s are, um, wrong. I’m right.” Well, that’s a great way to make friends and influence people, isn’t it? Nevertheless, Truman seems impressed, concurring that hitting the rock from the outside won’t do the job.
Quincy then uses a silly metaphor about firecrackers in your hand and Scary General asks, “Are you suggesting we blow this thing up from the inside?” He wants to know how they’ll do that, and Truman sighs, “We drill. We bring in the world’s best deep-core driller.”