Just Look Away

Posted on April 29, 2011

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Timebomb

“I know who I am, somebody is trying to make me think I don’t know who I am.”

This 1991 thriller has no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, where only 33% of the audience report liking it.

Why Bother?

“At the risk of sounding cliche, let me tell you this isn’t about getting fired… this is about life expectancy.”

This movie stars Michael Biehn (The Terminator, The Abyss). He rocked a mean mullet back in 1991. It also stars Patsy Kensit, who played an employee at the South African consulate, and Martin Riggs’ doomed lover, in Lethal Weapon 2.

In supporting roles you’ll find Tracy Scoggins, Robert Culp, Richard Jordan, Billy Blanks, and pro boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

Plus, the plot revolves around conspiracies and experimental mind control techniques. You know, just in case the cast didn’t pull you in.

I watched it

“You won’t shoot me in cold blood. You didn’t have it in you and you don’t have it in you now.”

A gas main explodes. A woman cries for help from the second floor of the burning building. A local watchmaker, walking home at the end of the day, sees her and performs a daring rescue. Many miles away, Colonel Taylor (Richard Jordan) is watching the evening news and sees footage of the heroic watchmaker. It comes as a shock. You see, Colonel Taylor is the head of a secret mind control project designed to produce ultimate soldiers, and the watchmaker, Eddy Kay (Michael Biehn), used to be part of the experiment.

Meanwhile, Eddy goes about his life until some people try to kill him. He reports it to the police, and starts suffering strange flashes of images and what may be memories. He sees a therapist (Patsy Kensit), but she thinks he’s hallucinating after the gas explosion and the assault. Then a second assault happens, and they go on the run while trying to figure out what is going on, why Eddy Is using the name of someone who died in the Vietnam War, and who is trying to kill him.

The Verdict

You really need to turn your brain off when you watch this film. The sets are uniformly fake. They might be real locations, but the lighting is so flat that they look like left-overs from cheap TV shows. The acting is fine, but the action is poorly directed.

Frankly, Michael Biehn is better when he’s playing a bad guy or an antihero. I think he does the best he can with the material at hand, but I never really cared about him and what happens to him. I had a hard time believing that he was a meek watchmaker who suddenly displays all these extreme special operative skills. Now, if he worked out a lot and liked firearms, and couldn’t explain either trait, that might have eased disbelief.

Aside from the laughably bad special effects of the mind control procedure, the plot is unbelievable. First, the military doesn’t want mindless, unethical, immoral soldiers. Such creatures, if they existed, would be undependable, undisciplined, and as dangerous to their allies as to their enemies. By 1991, the Soviet Union had fallen, and this script completely ignores that event. If they mentioned that Colonel Taylor was fighting to keep his project alive in the face of massive “peace dividend” budget cuts, that would have made the movie less of an artifact of its time.

In fact, his movie strongly reminds me of the ‘80s films of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Sure enough, the studio wanted one of them to play Eddy but the director/producer was dead-set on Michael Biehn.

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Posted in: Movies