The Best Films You’ve Never Seen – 3:15: The Moment of Truth

In this new semi-regular column, Inside Pulse writers will explore forgotten films that deserve to be remembered. 

Adam Baldwin is a character actor who has always had his fair share of fans. From his recent work on television shows Firefly and Chuck to his participation in seminal ‘80s movies My Bodyguard and Full Metal Jacket, Baldwin is an actor who should have made it big but, for whatever reason, never had a starring role. Or did he?

Solid points to any who named one of the few films Baldwin did, indeed, star in. Adam may not be quite as famous as any of the Baldwin clan of brothers he shares no relation to but he has actually had a couple of moments in the sun — including a handful of straight-to-video horror films, a few ‘80s forgotten gems and 3:15, a 1986 film that is perhaps the pinnacle of ‘80s school gang movies.

According to films from the ‘80s, school gangs are not quite the menacing brood of gun-packing miscreants and crystal meth-smoking meatheads that currently prowl modern-day campuses; they’re much worse. Inexplicably, without so much a popping of a cap or a stitching of a snitch, the gangs that prowl the school playgrounds in 3:15 are feared by the entirety of the school without question. Feared most of all are the Cobras, a handful of school kids that sport matching jackets and all talk like they are the Frito Bandito — despite the fact only one or two of them actually appear to be Hispanic.

Adam Baldwin’s character Jeff Hannah used to be the best of the Cobras, fierce with his pummeling and sporting the world-weary scroll of a premature 40-year-old man. Jeff was cool with being a part of the Cobras as long as gang activity was limited to spray painting the gang’s name in alleyways or shoving pizzas in nerds’ faces. When Cobra gang leader Cinco (Danny De La Paz) decides to stab a rival gang member found in Cobra territory, Jeff suddenly gets cold feet about the whole gang situation and decides to ditch the gang for Squaresville.

Cut to a year later and Jeff is a polo shirt-wearing, basketball-playing jock, dating the lovely ‘80s film staple of many a young boy’s crush Deborah Foreman. Content with his life (and who wouldn’t be if they were dating Deborah Foreman?), Danny has no beef with the Cobras or they with him.

Over the last year, the Cobras have become the premiere drug dealers of their school — distributing pot to the school’s endless supply of dope fiends with a calculated efficiency that should have scored them an A in Business Administration. The principal (Rene Auberjonois) doesn’t quite see it that way and enlists the help of the local cops to make a giant bust. Led by a perpetually squinting cop named Moran (Ed Lauter), the police put the righteous smackdown upon the Cobras and, in the process, drag Jeff back into a world he thought he had left behind for the pleasures of the creamy white skin of teenage girls in the nude.

When the Cobras, on the run from the cops, run into Jeff, they instantly assume he was the run who ratted them out. The cops, unable to hold the teenage gang members much longer than an afternoon without Jeff actually ratting them out, are looking at an immanent release of the gang — sending them right back into the school where they will beat the shit out of Jeff, his girlfriend and anybody else who gets in the way.

3:15 is not a complicated film. It does not strive to expose the fractured psyche of teenage thugs or offer up a solution for their miscreant ways. It just wants to show a bunch of teenagers reenacting the plot of any number of ‘80s action films while awkwardly stumbling around in a poor show of choreographed fighting.

As Jeff, Adam Baldwin is Rambo in a pair of tight jeans. Torn from the peace he has found, he finds himself forced back into the action in order to save his new life. That means an hour and a half of posturing and threats all leading up to a final confrontation at 3:15 after school, behind the flagpole.

3:15 has it all: rock and roll chicks whipping their pony tales as a dangerous weapon, X baseman John Doe in a cameo as a belligerent drunk, Wings Hauser as the pissed off father of a teenage girl and the ultimate message about teenage bullying: If you stand up to your bully, you’re going to get your ass shot.

Keep an eye out for small roles from musician Gina Gershon; Independence Day producer Dean Devlin; and star of werewolf cop movie Full Eclipse, Mario Van Peebles.

3:15 may not have kicked off the directing career of the film’s helmer Larry Gross but it didn’t end his career either. Gross had already made a name for himself as the writer of such films as 48 Hrs. and Streets of Fire. He has since continued as a writer, working on the screenplays for Another 48 Hrs.Geronimo: The American Legend and Prozac Nation.

3:15 is currently not available on DVD — which is a crying shame because it really is the perfect school gang movie from the ‘80s — but it is available to stream on Netflix. Quickly paced, fun in tone and starring Adam Baldwin; what else do you need? Hopefully we see the film get some kind of physical release soon. In the meantime, if you’re without Netflix you can still find VHS copies of the movie online or in local used video stores. If you’ve never seen this movie, make the effort to track it down. It’s worth the search.

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