Record books suggest that, adjusted for inflation, Renny Harlin’s Cutthroat Island is the biggest box office flop of all time; which is a shame because the film stands as one of the last great action films made without the aid of CGI, and this, in the era of the uncanny valley, really packs a punch. Everything about Cutthroat Island is physical, but making action movies with women at the centre has always been a perilous business. This is perhaps the greatest disappointment in the films unhappy history. Geena Davis is a skilful, powerful and enigmatic action hero, and one that actually performs many of the films incredible stunts.
The story follows the same formula as the hugely popular Pirates of the Caribbean. Morgan Adams (Davis) scalps her father on his deathbed to gain the fragment of a map that’s tattooed on his noggin. There’s two other parts to locate, and Dawg Brown (Frank Langella) is her competition to put the pieces together and find the treasure. But to do this, Adams has to form an uneasy alliance with William Shaw (Matthew Modine), a swashbuckling scallywag who she inevitably develops feelings for; even a pirate’s heart isn’t completely black.
Shot at obvious expense in Malta and Thailand, and with massive construction work rather than CGI to bring the ancient world to life.