Reckless (1984)

Reckless (1984)

Taglines: Girls like Tracy never tell their parents about guys like Rourke.

Teenage outcast Johnny Rourke (Aidan Quinn) falls for upper-class cheerleader Tracey Prescott (Daryl Hannah). A random draw at the high school ‘Tin Can-Can’ dance pairs the two. Worlds collide and opposites attract as the two fall in love. Living dangerously, Rourke’s anti-social behavior clashes with the privileged socialite Prescott.

Hopes dashed, future prospects dim and the omnipresent American Steel mill looming large in the background of this one-industry-town, Rourke comes to grips with his estranged mother and recently deceased father (Kenneth McMillan). Meanwhile, Tracey is forced to decide between her stable longtime boyfriend Randy Daniels (Adam Baldwin) and Rourke.

Reckless is a 1984 American romantic drama film starring Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah. The film was directed by James Foley and written by Chris Columbus, in their directing and screenwriting debuts respectively. The film’s soundtrack included music by INXS, Romeo Void, Bob Seger and Thomas Newman. It was shot in the Appalachian Mountains and Rust Belt of Steubenville, Ohio, Weirton, West Virginia and Mingo Junction, Ohio. The film was rated R in the United States.

Reckless (1984) - Daryl Hannah

Review for Reckless

Reckless is a highly underrated film, with a distinct 80’s “West Side Story” meets “Rebel Without A Cause” feel to it. The film appears to contrast the cold, dreary setting against the rebellious fire of its two stars, Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah, when in fact (one discovers), the backdrop only serves to FUEL said fires, ever-encouraged by the angry and angst-ridden musical soundtrack.

Reckless is set in a bleak, overcast, apparently northeastern industrial town, where most teenage aspirations only go so far as marriage to their high-school sweetheart and future employment at the local steel mill.

Johnny Rourke (Quinn) is a star football player who, in light of his broken family and miserable alcoholic father, comes to realize he wants (as he puts it, simply) ‘MORE’ out of life, and begins to openly rebel against every standard thus far imposed upon him.

Reckless (1984)

Rourke falls for Tracey Prescott (Hannah), a rich and popular cheerleader with a jerk for a boyfriend (Randy Daniels, played by Adam Baldwin). Rourke rigs the class vote so that Tracey is paired with him at the upcoming senior dance. Tracey does not let on that she is intrigued by the moody and mysterious Johnny, and agrees to attend the dance with him under the thinly-veiled guise of ‘responsibility’ to her senior class.

Randy’s overt jealousy, resulting in Rourke’s ejection from the dance gives Tracey the perfect opportunity to take off with Rourke for their first private encounter. One feels the sexual tension between them combined with their continued realization of how different the two are on the surface, but not so much underneath..

As the film progresses, we get a good glimpse of both Tracey’s and Johnny’s home lives, and they could not be more opposite. Tracey’s family is well-off, openly communicative, trusting and loving. Johnny’s family is the essence of ‘broken’- a mother who took off on an alcoholic, verbally (and later, physically) abusive father, played by Kenneth McMillan. Johnny has independence and loneliness thrust upon him, often having to pick up his drunken father at work, and only to be ‘thanked’ in the form of rapid-fire insults thrown back at him.

Reckless (1984)

Tracey begins to question her own ‘good girl’ image, and in her frustration runs into Johnny once again (quite literally), and the pair get into some mischief in the high school at night (including a somewhat graphic sex scene).

After this encounter, Tracey is more drawn to and frightened of Johnny than ever before, but he continues to pursue her, as she relents…several times (yes, more sex). Tracey’s boyfriend continues to gain suspicion that something is going on between his girlfriend and Rourke.

Rourke’s life continues to unravel. Having to pick up his drunken father from work and drive him home strapped to his bike (again), has caused Johnny to be late to football practice. The coach (played by familiar character actor Cliff De Young), attempts to make an example of Rourke, and ends up getting the short end of the stick, as Johnny quits the team.

Johnny comes home to find his father in the arms of who Johnny thinks must be a prostitute. A fight ensures, and Rourke gets thrown out of the ramshackled house, but not before his father destroys Johnny’s turntable, one of Rourke’s few prized possessions.

A few days afterwards, Rourke’s father dies from an industrial accident as a result of drinking on the job, and this is the final straw. Johnny decides in order to save himself, he has got to get out of this town. Tracey is the only worthwhile thing in his life, and he intends to take her with him.

During the annual ‘Career Week’ at school, we see Rourke try to convince Tracey to leave with him. Tracy hesitates, and before she can answer, Randy discovers the pair. The resultant brawl leads Tracey to alert the entire assembly of the fight, perfectly setting up the conclusion of the film. The next shot is of Rourke on his bike inside the school, revving the engine and telling Tracey how much he needs her.

A love story with an edge, ‘Reckless’ is a great film and definitely worth watching, if only to see relative newcomers Aidan Quinn and Daryl Hannah, and revisit 80’s New Wave music.

Reckless Movie Poster (1984)

Reckless (1984)

Directed by: James Foley
Starring: Aidan Quinn, Daryl Hannah, Kenneth McMillan, Cliff De Young, Jennifer Grey, Adam Baldwin, Pamela Springsteen, Haviland Morris
Screenplay by: Chris Columbus
Production Design by: Jeffrey Townsend
Cinematography by: Michael Ballhaus
Film Editing by: Albert Magnoli
Costume Design by: Ellen Mirojnick
Set Decoration by: Nora Chavooshian
Art Direction by: Anamarie Michnevich
Music by: Thomas Newman
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: February 3, 1984