Genre: Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.
Release Date: December 11th, 1985 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Lewis Teague Actors: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focas, Avner Eisenberg, Paul David Magid, Holland Taylor
ike the romance-novel design of the previous film, “The Jewel of the Nile” opens with a fantasy scene on a ship as Joan (Kathleen Turner) and Jack (Michael Douglas) are about to be wed. The vessel is overrun by pirates and set aflame, but not before swashbuckling swordplay fills the screen and Joan sacrifices the last spot on a lifeboat for her true love to escape. But back in reality, on the Riviera, Joan Wilder is suffering from writer’s block (“How much romance can one woman take?”), while Jack Colton is adrift in his own daydreams of sailing around the world and inhabiting a permanent vacation.
Later, at a reception for Joan, Omar Khalifah (Spiros Focas) approaches the novelist to write his biography. She’ll only need 4-5 weeks of research in Africa to document Omar’s succession as the Emperor and his mission to unite the tribes of the Nile. And a bit of time away from Jack might enliven their relationship. Just as Joan departs on a private jet, a mysterious assassin named Tarak (Paul David Magid) seeks out Jack to warn him that his girl is in danger. They depart immediately in pursuit (further motivated by a bomb on Jack’s boat), additionally accompanied by Ralph (Danny DeVito), who, having recently fled from a Cartagena jail and blaming Jack for his misfortune, insists that he aid in an operation to recover a valuable jewel from Omar’s palace.
Attempting to recapture the success of “Romancing the Stone,” this quick sequel combines adventure, comedy, and a love story. But it fails to assemble the ingredients in the right order or manner, resulting in a tepid execution that can’t muster enthusiasm or energy for any of the sequences. The action choreography lacks gusto, the humor isn’t funny, and the romance is childish (though that element gets slightly more amusing as the film progresses). It’s evident that sizable finances were available, but those resources couldn’t summon creativity or proficiency in storytelling techniques (writers Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner pick up from where Diane Thomas left off).
At the same time, the abundance of comic dialogue prevents the actors (and the audience) from taking anything seriously. Death and peril are entirely unbelievable, while amorous bickering feels forced and inauthentic. There’s always time for ineffective, flirtatious chitchat, even when thugs are firing machineguns. And the villain, though designed to be a ruthless killer, never manages to be intimidating or deadly. As saber skirmishes, tank chases, and plenty of desert landscapes continue to pop up, “The Jewel of the Nile” aims to be a decent derivation of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (or a James Bond episode, with its terrible title tune “The Jewel of the Nile” by Precious Wilson), but it ends up as an overlong, routinely anticlimactic, largely forgettable, generic adventure foray.
– Mike Massie