Days of Future Past: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man

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Written by Amanda Pampuro

marlboro man

Please note that by reviewing the film Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, I neither endorse riding any particular brand of motorcycle—whether down a long stretch of highway or off ramps in a sequined jumpsuit—nor do I condone smoking any brand of cancer sticks. In addition do not let this article advertise the use of Crystal Dream, taken orally or eyebally, and please do not arm wrestle without proper supervision.

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man features a nineties All Star cast, filmed at the peak of many careers, and no one would suspect that this was the peak of their careers. Except for being that guy and the other other Baldwin, they were never heard from again.

Filmed in 1991 but set in 1996, Harley Davidson makes a few predictions about giant banks left with un-checked power and the nature of a future drug. Corporate caution can be said to be a theme that might be said to be definitive of the nineties. Try as they did to pull back the curtain and expose the inner evil at Great Trust Bank, the film portrays the parasite as one easy to kill suitbag with trained assassins in trench coats. The millennial perspective argues that rather than have a clear target, true villains are starfish. While our heroes are manly and mean well, they get in over their head—their passionate drive for revenge fuels their final attack, but the ending feels rushed. Though in a western it would have worked—man done you wrong, do man wrong—each wide angle of the building hints that there are many more offices, with many more monsters awaiting. So when in the end, Harley Davidson and Marlboro Man put their guns in their holsters and ride off, one towards sunset and one towards sunrise, I can’t help but think this isn’t over.

Thankfully it was over and the film was never serialized.

Modernized cowboy flick—on a steal horse I ride, and I’m wanted, wanted dead or alive. I don’t know why they say grown men don’t cry, don’t cry. I’ve got friends in low places. If you like westerns or country music you’ll love this. And if you’re a man’s man, shoot guns, and can’t seem to settle down with your woman because you’re a wild horse, you might learn a few lessons.

Marlboro Man, who quit smoking, has some real classy monologues and carries the cowboy into the modern world. Marlboro’s costuming looks strange next to Harley’s annoying earring, and at times it feels like they started on different sets and kind of met of in the middle, which may be a sci-fi angle worth reading into.

I enjoy how sporadically the film switches location—after all its protagonists are wild hogs with full tanks. Never once do they talk about going anywhere, they just end up there, and the movie sort of follows.

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