Welcome to the future of 2029. The world’s economy isn’t interested in your old “money” anymore. The it thing now are emeralds, and the most important illegal emerald kingpin of them all is one Sanchez Boon (C. Thomas Howell). Boon is letting his emeralds cut by women with electronic gags only dressed in their underwear, so you know he’s a very special kind of guy. He also thinks his connection to the Agency (don’t ask me) are tight enough he can even kill one of their agents without consequences.
Jewel thief Harry Maxwell (Scott McNeil) has chosen just the night when Boon
puts that theory to the test to rob the villain’s main emerald store. Harry’s
not too happy with how things are going down, for not only does he end his
strike of consecutive break-ins without murder when he has to gun down some of
Boon’s henchpeople but he soon finds himself involved in a series of firefights
and explosions. On the positive side, he finds instant action hero love – which
means the characters are going to sneer at each other and exchange unwitty
one-liners for half an hour or so – with one of Boon’s emerald cutting slaves,
one Pandora Grimes (Heather Hanson).
Said series of explosions and firefights somehow (and it’s really better not
to think about the plot mechanics here too closely, lest one’s mind might
just break) leads everyone onto a prison ship bound for titan with a cargo hold
full of weapons and cryogenically frozen criminals. Of course, Boon soon
un-freezes the criminals, becomes BFFs with super-evil
android-the-film-calls-cyborg Zee 4R (Kiara Hunter), and takes over the ship, so
that finally Die Hard on a space ship can begin.
Oh yes, it’s another Lloyd A. Simandl production, made by the purveyor of
only the finest Canadian cheese, and it’s got everything I have learned to love
and fear about Simandl’s productions of the era. Namely, this is an action film
so stupid, it might be possible to weaponize it and kill people – or at least
their brains – stone dead through prolonged exposure. Oh no, it’s already
happening to me!
So, we have a plot that makes little sense even if you’re giving it the
special action movie dumbness pass, takes place in a world whose technological
level makes no sense at all, is tacky at all get out, and never ever stops to
throw out at least one delightfully idiotic bit per minute. No scene goes by
that doesn’t either contain numerous explosions, guys holding their guns like
John Woo reject gangsta wannabes, needlessly exposed breasts, an awesome stupid
idea (quick example: the film gets some of its early exposition, like the
name of its protagonist out of the way by letting Harry dictate stuff
for his autobiography while he’s breaking into a highly secured
building), or if you’re really lucky all of that at once.
Then there’s the acting: McNeil mostly seems a bit embarrassed by the whole
affair, nearly visibly wincing throughout the psychotronic dialogue where nearly
every sentence is a surreal winner, while Hanson keeps up a never-changing look
of annoyance, whatever is going on around her, whether she’s flirting or
being threatened with torture. Hunter gives her sadist android gal by contorting
her face into all kinds of interesting grimaces like a nine-year-old’s concept
of how bad guys emote, an approach that seems perfectly appropriate to the
film’s idea of characterisation. Throning over them all is C. Thomas Howell,
putting on an affected voice that might be a particularly offensive idea of a
cliché gay voice but that just as well might be an attempt at a British accent
gone horribly wrong, providing Boon with the most cartoonish tics he’s capable
of thinking up, and chewing the scenery as if somebody had lathered the
cardboard used to turn the usual warehouse sets “futuristic” in honey. It is
truly a thing to behold more than one to describe, for words just cannot do
Howell’s performance here justice.
Director Micheal Bafaro barely keeps all this nonsense und nearly surreal
bullshit under control in typical late 90s cheap-shot movie hired gun style.
That is to say, he adds a lot of inappropriate (the only kind fit for this
movie) slow motion and does his best to pretend three grey walls and a handful
of monitors from the 80s do a futuristic set make. Though I have to admit, some
of the action scenes work as well as anything this deeply stupid in conception
could, so kudos to Bafaro, I suppose. And given how much I enjoyed this
misbegotten thing calling itself a movie, I’m not even wearing my ironic hat