Thursday, July 9, 2015

Time Runner (1993)

Remember the alien invasion in the year 2022? Oh right, hasn’t happened yet. Which is perfectly alright with me, because we will be losing, badly. A bunch of scientists has a daring plan to turn things around: Send heroic astronaut Michael Raynor (Mark Hamill) through a wormhole, which might land him in the past - or not - where he might do something - or whatever. Yes, it’s one of those plans where step two is “?????” and step three “SUCCESS!”. For once, the movie characters seem to realize this too, for the scientists are also attempting to launch some long forgotten former Soviet nuclear rockets at the alien mothership. Things don’t proceed well on that front.

Fortunately, Raynor’s wormhole trip actually lands him in the far flung past of 1992. Alas, our typical, though rather more violent, government Men in Black (not wearing black) are on our hero’s trail, and clearly out to do him harm. Lucky for him, nice scientist (Wo)Man in Black Karen Donaldson (Raw Dawn Chong) has a case of the conscience and attempts to help him evade his pursuers. There’s some rubbish about the need to get back his flight recorder to enable more action scenes, more or less daring escapes, alien infiltration, an inexplicably helpful (and inexplicable) janitor who is frightfully good with guns (Gordon Tipple), Mark Hamill having visions of the near future thanks to wormhole magic, and a lot of of silly-awesome stuff going on, until Raynor decides to go to the future president of the world for help.

Seeing as that guy is played by Brion James, that might not have been the best idea a time traveller ever had.

Yes, yes, yes, earnest looking person there in the front row, Michael “Crackerjack” Mazo’s Time Runner, a comparatively early (which is to say, not boring) Lloyd A. Simandl production, is utter nonsense, cheap as a cheap thing, doesn’t look very good, and makes only little sense. You are, however, very wrong in the assumption that most of these points are a bad thing for the film at hand, even if they might make it a “bad” film.

In fact, I propose that someone going into Time Runner and not getting at least a tiny bit of enjoyment out of it is doing something very wrong in her life, for this is the sort of cheap crap that just glows with the kind of sheer insanity people generally won’t dare put into a serious film. So, in this context, of course going through a wormhole not only lets you go back in time but also gives you shareable flash-forwards with a cute wormhole effect, as well as the ability to change the future in such a way that…well, to be honest, I’m not sure what exactly happens in the last scene (though intimate knowledge of Doctor Who gives me obvious solutions), but it has Mark Hamill badly yet enthusiastically pretending to be in pain, vaporizing into his own past baby self, and the film calling it a wrap. It’s timey-whimey stuff, for sure.

Speaking of Hamill, when let loose, the man in parts of his post Star Wars (which is now also pre-Star Wars in a turn of event Time Runner would just love to have used) “career” was a scenery-chewing force to be reckoned with, leaving no eye unbugged and no opportunity for the wildest emoting un-emoted. It’s joyful to watch, the kind of thing that can’t help but make me like an actor for the sheer willingness to take on a role in a really stupid film and jump into it with great force. Add to this Brion James as the creepiest US presidential candidate this side of Ronald Reagan, talking about peace (yuck, says the film) and an end to suffering (evil alien commie bastard liar, grunts the film excitedly), and you have yourself an ACTING(!!!) bonanza of exciting dimension, with Rae Dawn Chong as the straight woman for the insanity.

Do I sound slightly unhinged? Am I rambling? Well, you go and watch Time Runner while the temperatures rise above 30 degrees Celsius and you might too! Yes, that’s a recommendation, and I’m not sorry about it.

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