BLACK MOON RISING. New World Pictures, 1986. Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Hamilton, Robert Vaughn, Richard Jaeckel. Based on a story by John Carpenter, also one of the co-screenwriters. Director: Harley Cokliss.

   The “Black Moon” in this movie is a car, and not just any car. It’s an experimental car, one that’s designed to travel at speeds of over 300 miles per hour. Valuable? Yes, no doubt about it. And when it’s stolen, by an organized gang of thieves not knowing exactly what they have, do the owners want it back>? I’m repeating myself. No doubt about it.

   This is not a “car movie,” though, as many many movies in the 80s were. It’s really about Quint, Tommy Lee Jones’ character, a thief himself. He’s stolen a cassette of important evidence that the owners want back, and he’s hidden it for safekeeping in the car that’s been stolen. Now he needs to find the car too.

   And just by the way, I said the gang of thieves did not realize what they had stolen. This is not exactly true. Their leader on the street and a whiz with cars, especially at stealing them, is Linda Hamilton, and even though it thoroughly displeases her boss (Robert Vaughn) upstairs in a tall tower of a building, she wouldn’t mind the idea of being able to drive off with it.

   It was toward the beginning of Jones’ movie-making career when this one was made, still in the stages of making movies for TV and other ones almost no one ever saw, but does he have screen presence?

   The answer, as succinctly as I can made it, is Yes. He fits my mental picture of a tough-as-nails thief-for-hire perfectly. And tough as nails is exactly what he has to be. He takes one of the more brutal beatings in this movie that I can imagine – and is still able to get up the next day to finish the operation that he has in the works to reprieve the car.  (What this is, you see,  is a double heist movie.)

   Most movie such as this I am always content to sit back and enjoy the flow. Linda Hamilton is always a plus, as easy as the eyes as she is, but this is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie all the way. Even after seeing Black Moon, the car, really do its stuff when it needs to.