Konbanwa, peeps. Today's FFS concerns a classic thriller more in line with old TZ episodes surrounding impending nuclear war, except with far more believable and modern twists, delivered in a tri-fold package of tension, action, and bawl-worthy moments. 1988's Miracle Mile, which, interestingly, was released on September 11th of that year.
Harry (Anthony Edwards) is one of those rare, good men with a good heart and classic tastes, an all-American Joe readily appreciative of the beauty and good in people, places, and spirit of the city of Los Angeles.
A loving person, Harry is the type of guy to buy lobsters just to set them free, spend his days at museums just so he can aid children on field trips in the knowledge of mammoths and Cro-magnon men, enjoy the classic jazz of Dickie Wells and join in the fun with his lucky trombone, and take the newly-found love of his life, Julie (Mare Winningham), on frequent trips to the tar pits and on trolley rides down the Miracle Mile way. Harry was one of those men that didn't have problems, simply because he didn't want any.
So it was with eagerness he jumped out of bed in the middle of the night, ready to meet Julie at her current job and his favorite evening hangout, Johnies' Diner, although on this particular occasion, he was running fatefully late.
Just before 4 a.m., Harry arrives at the Diner in a great suit and carrying a bouquet of flowers, only to find Julie had believed herself to be stood up, long gone, and leaving Harry to order a gyro and go outside for a newspaper while waiting to see if she would return his call.
The phone booth does emit a ring, although it isn't Julie.
Who it is, is an incredibly distressed military private, "Chip", on station in a bunker somewhere in North Dakota. Mistakenly, he had dialed the wrong area code, believing to have contacted his father in Orange County. Long before Harry has the chance to get a word in edgewise, he hears the frantic story of how Commanding Officers have committed the ultimate act of domestic aggression, somehow managing to launch the missiles they were sworn to guard against cities within their own country. They are set to strike in little over 70 minutes.
Harry isn't sure whether the call is some elaborate prank, even as the poor man on the line begins confessing his sins and demanding his father receives word of his final correspondence. But it changes in an instant as he overhears CO's bust into the room, gun down their subordinate, and tell whoever's on the line to never mind the whole thing.
"Forget what you just heard...and go back to sleep..."
Harry tries to go about his business eating, but already he's uncontrollably shaking and suffering a nosebleed. He deems it necessary to try to inform diner patrons of the emergency. Though most patrons want to ignore Harry, there's no hiding the fact they're intrigued, to say the least.
As it turns out, one woman at the counter, Landa (Denise Crosby), has ties to Washington - and uses her satellite phone to confirm the terms and codes Chip had used were legitimate, U.S. officials are already en-route to the southern hemisphere, and apparently, authorities informing the public first doesn't seem to be a priority - meaning it's time to move, and quick.
In no time, the majority of the diner patrons (minus a comical drag queen) are stocked and driving a delivery truck down the highway. The plan is to find a chopper pilot to meet up with, travel down south, and from there to a massive, secret Antarctic compound built for just this reason. There is no turning back, so Harry finds himself grabbing the cook's gun and jumping off onto the street, seeing as how he cannot leave without Julie.
It's there he comes across a hood named Wilson (Mykel T. Williamson), on the run after stealing a shitload of stereos and other electronics. Unfortunately, Wilson is low on gas, so he and Harry stop by a gas station for him to fill up while Harry tries again to contact Julie.
Too bad the station attendant is a racist redneck, who emerges from the building brandishing a shotgun at Wilson. And with the sight of a shotgun comes a police car, with cops who were only patrolling the streets and are now on arrest mode, thanks to what they've seen.
The redneck blames Wilson, Wilson blames Harry, and Harry tries to explain, but Wilson had already sprayed the cops with gasoline, who make the stupid mistake of pulling their triggers.
Harry and Wilson make a run for it via the stolen police car, leaving the gas station to explode behind them.
Using the cruiser radio, Harry pretends to work for Atomic Power Commission and questions dispatch on evacuation procedures. Naturally, county officials are unaware of the impending doom. Informing Wilson, the plans inevitably change to include the rescue of both Julie AND Wilson's sister, Charlotta.
Harry literally breaks into Julie's apartment building to grab her, but is not only met with her aging roomie pointing a shotgun at him, but finds out Julie had popped a number of sleeping pills after Harry didn't show at the diner, meaning he'll have to carry her out.
In the meantime, an impatient Wilson decides to take off in the stolen cop car without them, leaving Harry to push Julie through the streets of the city in a shopping cart, having given instructions to the old lady, who wants to pick up her own beau, on where the rendezvous point is.
Julie finally awakes not one block from the building with the heliport, believing Harry to be surprising her with a sunrise balloon ride or any other type of romantic gift that would normally, under better circumstances, probably be the case. Meeting up with the old lady and her man in their cute little car, he informs them to keep the situation on the down low, although Julie can guess something's not right, when they tell Harry they're not coming.
Expressing not an iota of fear or regret, they want both Julie and Harry to know they love them, and will spend their last moments together talking and eating at their favorite former hangout.
"And they said they'd never talk to each other til the day they died."
Reaching the roof of the building, an attendant informs Harry and the few select yuppies that have gathered, that the pilot is MIA. Grabbing one of Landa's colleague's cash, he goes back down to literally inquire of strangers if they know how to fly a plane.
He ends up following some strange-looking joggers into what appears to be an all-night exercise club, but what's actually a workout and hangout point for gay and transgendered individuals - and lo and behold, Harry finds his man. Who wants to bring another man. Which is more than o.k. for all involved.
Throwing the dude the huge wad of (soon to be useless) cash, he has no choice but to order them across the street without him, as he can hear Julie nearby yelling down strangers for aid, having learned the truth.
Running out to meet her, several cop cars zoom by, crashing right into the storefront of a local shop. It's Wilson!
Apparently, things hadn't gone well at all for him since he took off earlier. Both he and Charlotta had amassed a major police manhunt for them, and had somehow gotten shot multiple times in the process, when they ended up crossing paths with Harry.
Trying to carry his sister away, Wilson is too injured to go further, and hunkers down by the escalator only to watch Charlotta die, and reprimands Harry for being inaccurate on the missile timing. He demands Harry shoot him, as his only concern is "catching up with" his sister. He dies anyway, before Harry can pull the trigger.
Deciding the entire incident may not be what Chip had said, Julie suggests they give themselves up, and tell the cops they were only bystanders on the scene. After all, it's past impact time, and nothing has occurred. That's all that really matters, is it not?
Just as they emerge from the storefront, the police suddenly speed off, the prior engagement completely forgotten. Now just dawn, in the blink of a fucking eye, people are running out onto the streets, with crashes, looting, public fornication, beatings, and panic beyond imagination, mounting. Seems like the public have finally been informed, conveniently with no time to make any kind of difference.
Harry stops by the same pay phone this whole event began at, and dials Chip's father, exactly 5 minutes after the supposed impact time, in a last-ditch effort to confirm this whole thing may still be a fake...
But there's absolutely no point in Harry deluding himself now. He sends Julie off to the chopper point with a gun, and proceeds to get lost in the crowd, witnessing crashes, explosions, dead bodies, and even gets chased by a gun-toting grunt through the sewers.
Eventually, he does make it to the helipad, reunited with Julie and shocked to discover the chopper gone, along with everyone else except Landa's colleague, shirtless and utterly snapped, waving his own weapon and obviously, deemed too much of a liability for the group to have taken along.
But suddenly, true to his word, the fruity, spandex-clad makeshift pilot touches down, having returned in one last circle to ensure Harry and Julie would really make it.
Leaving the nutty colleague behind, they take off, but don't get more than barely a half-mile away before the streams of missiles are quite visible and within seconds, impact.
The shockwave affects the chopper badly, throwing off all instruments and eventually severely injuring the pilot. To their horror, Harry and Julie can only lie in wait as the bird splashes down, sinking into the very tar pits they frequented up until just a day before.
Their immediate fate all but sealed, Harry still manages to remain the helpless romantic and pure-hearted man he always was, promising his love that if Superman could crush a lump of coal into a diamond, they might be able to emerge from this predicament with some kind of metamorphosis-induced wisdom and power. And if not, then their love and legacy will at least forever be immortalized within the tar, as they will always remain two diamonds in history and of priceless meaning.
film (c) 1988 MGM