Well, I have some hopes for this, as it was directed by Christian
McIntire, who has previously done good work in these pages on Lost
Voyage and Silent
Warnings. Will lightning strike
a third time? Who knows?
All I can say is that my dread levels are considerably low for this one.
Oh, and there will probably be CGI effects, and they will probably suck, but the intelligence will make up for that.
Pretty cool opening credits, with various CGI body parts and animated skeletons, and Lance Henrikson as the name above the title! He must have liked that. Driving techno music which I would have liked more had it not been looped over the DVD menu while I was doing other stuff, but, I don’t hate it yet. Actually, it’s pretty cool stuff. Scotty Clausen wrote it, whoever he is.
Robin Givens is in it, and no one else I recognize. Ooh, Christian edited it to, though he didn’t write it—it’s credited to Michael Baldwin, who I suppose is YET ANOTHER of those Baldwin brothers. Aren’t there like forty of them? They should do a version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. With Lance Henrikson as Rico.
And good old Phillip Roth and Jeffery Beach appear as the producers. How could it be a UFO film without them? I’m not really asking.
And we open the movie proper at the Russian consulate building in Washington (the subtitle says). Sirens blaring, Lance drives up in a little car and gets out and looks world-weary. Well, of course he always looks like that. (I wonder what it was like when it was his birthday and he was a little kid opening presents. He would look at them and everyone would think, Oh, he hates it, even though he might have actually been overjoyed.)
Lance introduces himself to, and chats with a SWAT team guy. This guy says everything is under control, though he admits the bomb isn’t defused and they don’t know how Russian security was breached. In fact, under further questioning from Lance, the guy admits they don’t know much of anything, so Lance asks if he based his operation on the “Psychic Friends Network.” See, Lance can get away with a joke like that, where some other actor would look like some dumb cluck. Like most of the Baldwin horde, for example. They would say that joke and look stupid, en masse.
So, Lance puts on his FBI jacket and orders the 100 yard perimeter expanded to two miles. Lance knows how the SWAT folks really don’t know anything, but he is cool and tries to save face, asking the SWAT guy to walk him to “the bomb.” So they go into the house and through this room full of cardboard boxes. And they go to this thing that looks like the Genesis device from Star Trek II. And one Russian guy, named Ivan refuses to leave. He pronounces it EeVAN. Oh, yeah, well, I’m EYEgore. So there.
Lance gets to work. And he’s a real pro, seeing where the numbers on the numeric keypad have finger smudges on them, ie, where the arming sequence might have been keyed in (they are 6, 7 and 3). He also speculates on the psychological motives here, in that the bomber wanted the bomb found so he could be thought of as clever or cool. Lance opens the bomb by keying in the word “OPEN.” If you have a phone handy, you can see that you could spell this with 6,7, 3 and 6.
Lance asks the SWAT guy to blow some cigarette smoke into the interior of the bomb, which reveals the network of lasers guarding the mechanisms inside. One of the mechanisms is a little spinning thing, and Lance says that if this starts going faster then things have taken a turn for the worse. He goes on to point out that this bomber guy is pretty clever and stuff, and how he seems to be giving them an easy time of things so that everything will work out well and no one will get blown up real good or anything like that—it’s just for show, in other words. But Lance is still pretty nervous about the whole situation, thinking the guy with the trigger might just set it off if the show isn’t to his liking.
Lance gets a call from airport security, where they may have the bomber. And we see the airport, where a bunch of guys have guns trained on this other guy, who is singing folk songs or something. Uh…okay. The airport guy asks what he should do, and Lance, after assessing what’s up, says “Take him out,” which the airport guy does. (Folk singer has his hand over a switch, but I guess he doesn’t get to press it before he is gunned up a lot.)
Before he dies, Folk Singer says (I think) “Kill me,” or maybe “Forgive me,” but he dies anyway, saving everyone a guilty conscience. Airport Guy takes Folk Singer’s gun and tells Lance that it is unloaded.
Lance notes that this is a bad thing, and SWAT guy says the gyroscope in the bomb is spinning faster, and remembers that Lance told him this would be a bad thing, so he shouts this new development to Lance. So Lance orders everyone cleared from the building, and everyone runs, and the DVD starts messing up WHICH I HATE. Hang on.
Couldn’t fix it. Oh well. Anyway, the Russian guy, Eevan, he closes his eyes and the bomb blows up, and it incinerates several of the fleeing people and blows out the windows of the building and generally ruins it. And Lance is all bummed by this as you can imagine, and he is taking it as a personal failure though, gosh, I thought he did pretty well what with using cigarette smoke and keypads and his general knowledge of bombs.
And we cut to some sad eyed chick watching this on the news, and she’s pretty sad and stuff, and Lance walks in, so we have like a sad-a-thon going here. Sad piano music even plays!
Sad chick says (in what sounds like a Russian accent) that everyone is blaming Lance for the explosion. Because…well, it’s always this way in these kinds of movies. No one ever blames the guy who had the bomb, you know.
And there’s more news reporting, and MORE DAMN DEFECTS ON THE DVD…looks like that bomb did more damage than they thought, as it has caused the DVD to glitch out! Ha ha ha ha ha. Anyway, everyone, including the chick on TV, seems to think it’s all Lance’s fault. What the hell? Honestly, when do people who do evil things ever get blamed for those evil things? Unless they’re done by “politically correct” enemies, like Republicans, Christians or Neo-Nazis. If you ever see a movie where a character is a Republican Christian Neo-Nazi, you might as well return it to the store because the villain is pretty obvious. Anyone else, though, and it’s all society’s fault, or even better, Republicans or Christians somehow. Sheesh.
Anyway. Sorry for digressing, and threatening to turn this review into a charged political debate. Turns out Sad Chick is Lance’s daughter, and she believes in him, but he doesn’t believe in himself anymore (I guess he watches too much TV). Awwww. Some clown with a Russian accent said that they had over three hours to defuse the bomb (how did he know this?), but Lance the Cowboy messed everything up. Lance, on TV, won’t speak to the reporter. She notes, naturally, that the Folk Singer had ties to “Right Wing” organizations.
And cut to where some guy, who is obviously In Authority, asks Lance, “Did you, or did you not order the shooting of the terrorist at the airport?”
”Yes I did,” Lance says.
”And did this not cause the device to explode?”
”To the best of my knowledge, yes it did,” Lance answers.
Well, there are Concerned Looks all around. “Do you still maintain you were not negligent in your decision?”
Lance says “No, I was not.”
Judge asks if Lance has any evidence to support his statement, and Lance says that he can’t, as all the evidence has been deemed “Top Secret.”
Okay, sorry again, but excuse me a moment. You can skip this paragraph. THE DAMN FOLK SINGER HAD A GUN AND A DETONATOR. Okay, he may not have been connected with the bomb, in fact, he might have been some random nutcase in a bizarre coincidence. Still, what the hell, people? How frickin’ PC is this movie going to be? Lance didn’t kill anyone. The FOLK SINGER was sure threatening to do so. The bomber actually DID kill people. Did anyone else note that? So who’s being grilled? Lance, of course. It’s like this movie was written by Ted Kennedy, without the drunken incoherence.
Back to the film. Upon hearing that the evidence is top secret, the judge guy asks who ordered this top-secretness? Lance says he (Lance) did! Wow!
Judge guy advises Lance that he should start sending out his resume. Again with the wow. I’m thinking, at this point, that we’ve seen 13 minutes of preliminary stuff. That is almost always a sign of bad things. Not always, just almost always. For example, the recent Bruce Willis film Hostage took the same tack—if I may paraphrase, Lance is good at his job, but he got a bad break and no longer believes in himself. So he’s going to take some minor job, but he’ll be forced back into the limelight. Hostage did this well, but, if my extraordinary powers of, um, something are right, Antibody got there first.
Well, we get a shot of Washington. Lance shows up to talk to some goofy looking guy, asking why it’s so hard to file a simple report. Goofy tells Lance that “things just got a little weird” and he hands Lance a wireless mouse or something like that. Actually, it’s the “detonator” the Folk Singer was holding. Lance can see right away that it’s just a prop, so Goofy hands him a test tube full of liquid, and then an electron microscope image of a “nano-detonator” that was inside Folk Singer’s body.
Goofy says that Folk Singer had some kind of brain implant, which made him do bad stuff (like bad singing) and thus, the main villain behind it all has not been found! Oh my gosh!
Lance asks why he (Lance) gets the feeling he’s being set up as a patsy, and the bad DVD copy of this thing makes it hard, but Goofy says “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about,” and we cut to ONE YEAR LATER and Lance is in Germany. He’s thanking the waitress for bringing him coffee. But his cell phone rings, and it is his daughter, and she is with some (I suppose) hunky yet glasses wearing guy who never says a word while Daughter confirms the plans for the weekend. (One imagines, given that dad is Lance Henriksen, that such plans did not include boyfriends.)
More DVD problems. Argh (smoldering rage). Not making me happy.
Anyway, Lance quickly figures out that Daughter has a BOY around, but he’s cool with that and stuff.
And as plans are finalized for the weekend family love-o-thon, Lance hangs up and some gal in a one-piece suit shows up in the MOST SUSPICIOUS manner possible, which of course doesn’t flag Lance at all. Actually, she’s the reporter from the story about the bomb and stuff. She shmoozes and stuff, but he’s guarded, no doubt recognizing her like we did.
But then she straight-up tells him she’s a reporter, and she mentions how great it is that he is still working since he screwed everything up, before, and got Slater in front of the eight ball. She notes that it is the anniversary of the Big Screw Up by Lance, so she asks about hey, maybe a follow up story?
And the stupid DVD goes into a broken loop.
But, being clever I got around this. Lance is pretty much no-way on a follow up interview thing, and she says she was just doing her job, and he says he was just doing his, yadda yadda.
She asks about the “Technology Summit” which she is covering, and he says she ain’t covering it anymore, as he’s in charge of security, and he (ba-ZING) just revoked her security clearance. There’s a tiny bit of banter.
And we cut to an establishing shot of the National Memorial Hall in Munich (according to the subtitle), where Reporter shows up with her cameraman and starts talking background stuff. She tries to get into the conference but the guy with the clipboard doesn’t have her on the list. (Lance works fast.) Despite her trumpeting her company, “the American News Network,” she’s still not on the list to get in. She repeats her claim, and the guy says, “Madam, I’m German. I’m not deaf.” Ooh, what a bringdown.
But, elsewhere, a couple of pretty damn obvious spies show up in a van marked “Luciano” and they say, “Destiny is ours.”
And more crap from Reporerette. She notes that one of the speakers is a Theodore Bikel, who recently got an award for his work with nano-technology. (Remember, like the detonator the Folk Singer had.) She keeps going on, even as the Evil Guys’ Van (Luciano still written on the side) shows up and acts all evil and everything (for a van). Everything! The evil guys inside even have dark glasses on and a really ominous set of background music that arrived when they did.
But she doesn’t seem to care about the totally evil vibes unleashed by the van, and she asks them to move because they’re ruining the shot. Even Cameraguy thinks this is unwise, but he lowers his unit anyway, and the van drives off ominously.
Still, folks inside the van are pissed, because the reporter got a look at the driver. But he says it will all be over before they have a chance to look at the footage. Up to no good, are we? So two Luciano vans drive off, and we cut inside to some luncheon. Reporterette is walking down where people have fruit bowls and stuff, but I thought she wasn’t supposed to be there? Unless that was some other skinny brunette in a white dress (we don’t see her face). And in the kitchen, some bad guys are bringing in trays, which I bet don’t have food, but they get in anyway and stand around in the kitchen, taking snacks and looking troublesome. The music tells us this is pretty worrisome.
Outside (sorry about that mention earlier) Reporterette mentions how the President might not be here, but the German Chancellor (“Wolf Braun”) will be, and sure enough some old guy walks in and everyone stands up (in the fruit bowl hall that is). She narrates how this guy was instrumental in getting funding for Dr. Bikel’s experiments in nano-technology, a bit we watch three times as the DVD glitches out. Then we get to Reportette signing off, and the Chancellor about to speak. He has a very difficult to understand voice. It seems to be just bland generalities. As he talks, we see Lance and one of his underlings watching several views of the hall on video monitors.
In the kichen, trouble brews as the chef notes that something “is not right” with his food. The Luciano (evil) guys stand around like, Uh oh, this isn’t in the Plan. Evil Guy who talked to Reporter apologizes (DVD stuck in a loop again). It turns out (I had to miss a bit that the bisque is supposed to be cold, so it’s all ruined) that DVD technology is flawed. Chef goes into a rampage, so Evil and his Henchmen, tired of being berated by chefs, of all people, shoot everyone in the kitchen.
The Chancellor continues but I can barely understand him. He does say, as the Luciano guys casually stroll into the hall, right up near the stage, that he hopes we’ll find “that last remaining eureka.” The Evil guys aren’t even trying to be subtle, they just march right in like some motorcycle gang in an AIP picture. Lance notes this on the monitor and looks worried, but I wonder why there wasn’t anyone at the doors to stop the evil guys?
Chancellor introduces the Chief Scientist (Dr. Theodore Bikel as noted), and the Luciano guys start shooting. Mostly in the air, but they also shoot some waiters and other staff. (Maybe they are from a competing restaurant). Outside, hearing the shooting, Reporterette rushes out with Camera Guy and they start talking about what’s going on (as far as they can guess.) Inside, Lance and his underling watch as the Chancellor, the Scientist and maybe some other guy are hustled off by the Lucianos, and they talk into their cell phones about “do not engage” and stuff. Geez, Lance, it sure seems like you were asleep at the switch, here.
Outside, the Lucianos emerge with their hostages, and they shoot the Chancellor (making a dumb joke). Lance looks like he’s got quite a headache. Outside, Evil Guy calls for a camera crew. Wouldn’t you know it, Reporterette and Camera Guy are right there! Reporterette is all over this, Camera Guy isn’t so sure, noting the murder and such. But she tells him this is the big time so hop to, and he does.
Lance springs into action. He calls his daughter and tells her she can’t come visit after all, as something has come up. Apparently this is one of those “You always have to work, you don’t love me” kind of deals. Who wants to bet she shows up anyway and complicates things?
On TV, Reporterette introduces Evil Guy, who says he is Anthony, General of the People’s Liberation Army. He says (after a DVD glitch) that there’s a giant nuke hidden around someplace, and it will destroy an area 50 miles around, in exactly eighteen hours. It’s a totally bad bomb, and if anyone tries to defuse it, or move it, or otherwise mess with it, or with he and his guys, it will go off. He’s got a microchip detonator somewhere in his body. Oh, and the bomb will go off anyway in 18 hours. He goes on to talk about how the detonator works, but basically notes that if he dies, it goes off. Also, X-Rays and stuff like that will set it off too. So there.
He gives a list of demands to Reporterette and yells, “Death to the Western World, Long live the New World Order.” Then he kind of saunters off, thinking the show is over.
”What would you say to your critics who call you a blood-thirsty lunatic?” Reporterette asks. He pulls out his gun and shoots Camera Guy. “That was for my critics,” he says. “Any other questions?”
A quick shot of the dead chancellor, bleeding rather poetically (it must be said) down the steps. A police car, marked “Polizei” pulls up. Um, despite the fact that they were already there…uh, oh well.
In slow motion, the cops run up and remove his body, and the music goes a bit choral.
Inside the hall, Lance and his underling, now with some other guys have the “infrared link” coming up. Oh, good. I was hoping for Lancelot Link, myself. But infrared’s good too, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Underling says that there are seven Lucianos, and they can take them all out, and they can shoot Anthony’s arms and legs so he can’t do anything detonator-wise. Lance is unsure of this plan, but in response to Underling’s query, he seems not to have a better idea.
So, Underling and his team move in. And they go through the corridors, knowing they have to keep Anthony alive, and knowing that Anthony’s men will try to kill him so as to detonate the bomb.
There’s a pretty good gun battle between the forces of good and the forces of Luciano, very well shot and edited, and in the end the good guys win. Dr. Bikel is freed, but one Luciano guy is still barely alive, and he grabs a gun and shoots (but does not kill) Anthony. So now everything is critical and stuff, what with the bomb and everything. (In case you forgot.)
Turns out, Anthony’s condition is critical and stuff. So they hustle him off to the emergency room. Lance comes down, and meets Dr. Bikel, and they chat a moment, before Dr. Bikel reveals that a) he has seen the photograph of the nano-detonator from earlier, and b) he has something awesome to relate.
We cut to the outside, where Lance is disbelieving the awesomeness, and Dr. Bikel says it was pretty simple after they figured out “molecular compression.” He says his method is the only way to save the day, and Lance reluctantly agrees.
I’m not sure if we missed anything due to a DVD glitch, but we…well, we haven’t been told anything about, you know, shrinking people, which the DVD box says is the main thrust of this film. Well, we’ll get to it in time I’m sure.
We cut to a van with Dr. Bikel and Lance, and the Doc explains that Lance has to be free of parasites before he can put on his suit, and Lance scoffs at the notion of parasites, and Doc has to clue him in about how many free riders the human body has on average.
Man, this frickin’ DVD. Doc, while chewing on an apple, mentions that one of these parasites might end up the size of a [glitch] [small truck]. Lance thinks this sounds ugly, and Doc adds “deadly” too. And they’re wheeling Anthony to the emergency operating room.
And they arrive at the Doc’s special secret lab, and keep wheeling Anthony and themselves into an elevator, where, at the 33 minute mark, we meet co-star Robin Givens. She and Lance “meet cute” but not really. They don’t really hit it off. “No people skills,” Doc excuses.
More stuff as Anthony is loaded into a special kind of bed where there are machines all around him. Lance is duly impressed.
Robin notes that they’re not ready for this, micro surgery is a better plan; Doc notes that, sure, that would be swell if they knew where the detonator was, but they can’t use X-Rays (as noted) so this is the only way. He tells her she can withdraw if she wants, and she says, “But then, you’d have no pilot.”
”What do you mean, pilot?” asks Lance.
Doc pulls a switch, and to heavenly choir music, some doors open to reveal a spaceship-like machine. Robin designed it, and Lance is impressed with it, and her, I guess. And they finally mention shrinking.
Two others show up, a young couple, wondering if they’re going to go “subhuman” tonight. Oh, I thought we were going Chinese! Since Italian, earlier, didn’t work out so well.
Apparently, there was a pretty major glitch somewhere, since everyone knows all about—and sit down if this might be a shock—how they’re going to shrink down, in the spaceship thing, and go hunting for the detonator. It will be a voyage inside the human body. Why, such a voyage sounds pretty fantastic, wouldn’t you say? Man, I should just be, like, bludgeoned with something right about now.
Male asks Female if she’s like to “delouse” together, and she says “Dream on,” and Lance asks, “What does he mean, delouse?” and he asks it several times, but no one answers him.
We get some quick shots of them in chambers, obviously naked (but not in a cool way), being flashed so as to delouse. Elsewhere, Lance is taking off his watch and stuff, and he gets a cellphone call from Underling (Otto) who says, basically, tensions are high. Lance says yep, they are.
They do some more chatting about stuff, until Lance asks if any of the dead Lucianos have rented a cargo truck lately. Otto says he’ll look into this. During this talk, Lance paces restlessly, while Doc attempts to get his blood pressure. I think it’s supposed to be comedy, but man the timing (and music) is all off. He tells Doc that someone is going to have to brief Otto on what’s going on. Doc says sure, that’ll be taken care of.
Doc gives Lance a giant measuring cup and says, “We need a sample,” and Lance laughs and says “You’ve got it all, leave me alone,” and puts his cellphone in the cup. Apparently, that’s good enough for Doc. Wow, Lance, when you get back better check your cellphone bill. I bet Doc will call like Alaska and China and stuff, and maybe some of those sex numbers.
Anyway, all four crewpersons finally meet up inside the…heck, they didn’t name the spaceship, did they? (Actually, they might have named it the “Helix.”) Let’s call it the SeaView.
Anyway, Lance tells Robin she looks “good in blue” and then realizes that was not a good way to start stuff. Robin explains that there’s a large airlock below, and that the SeaView has grappling hooks and “tractor beams”! It’s a really great set, I have to stop and say here. It looks like a bit starker version of a Federation vessel. Very nicely done. Robin stops in a place and mentions that here are the “EVA pods” and that if there is trouble, here “is your only way out.” I’m sure we should remember this. You—yes, you, the one in the back, who’s got a D average. Your assignment is to remember the EVA pods. If you can, you may just pass this course.
Robin notes that they seat two “but not comfortably”, and that they have radio but only enough oxygen for an hour. She also tells him that, if he needs to get in one, he should put on a pressure suit, because if the hull is breached, this suit could save his life. I hope you are taking copious notes, Mr. D Average.
She points out that there are two joysticks, one controls the laser and the “pulse gun,” the other controls these two robotic arms. Lance notes he has some familiarity with robotic arms from his FBI training, in fact he designed some for bomb defusing, though not (he quickly adds) as sophisticated as these. So he should be jake with these robot arms, and Robin is starting to warm to him.
He asks how long they can miniaturize, and she says normally seven days, though they can do thirty if they need to. But this is the first experiment with human miniaturization so it’s up in the air (or down in the body).
Lance gets a tad concerned, but somewhere, a pulse gun fires. (We, and Lance, hear this on the soundtrack.)
Lance asks the Male Other Person why there was weapon fire. This, in answer to his query, is because there are a lot of dangers in the human body, “it’s like a war zone.” Lance accepts this with remarkable aplomb.
Anyway, everyone sits in their cool chairs, and Female Other Person hands out suicide pills to everyone. FOUR of them each. You’ve gotta really want to kill yourself, I guess. Doesn’t fill me with confidence, how about you?
And techno music starts up, as the launch sequence starts up. A giant spinning ring surrounds the SeaView, and it shrinks down. This is a pretty cool sequence, and unlike the rest of this movie, takes an appropriate amount of time. (This is the same techno music from the title sequence if you were keeping score.) And the digital effects are pretty cool. Female mentions that this will be like being put through a garlic press. But it turns out to be, in Lance’s words, like being in the “front row” at a “Dead concert.” Robin says that as small as they are now, 1500 of them could fit on the head of a pin. Lance thinks this is ironically great.
So, they’re all shrunk, and are being prepared to be shoved inside Anthony. They’re put into a saline solution, and Robin renames for us slow types the ship as the “Helix” but I like SeaView better. The visual effects are really good during these bits, as we see the SeaView inside what looks like a giant syringe, from the inside. Kudos, especially for the injection sequence which is pretty well done.
And they get shot inside Anthony. And they’re moving through the bloodstream. We pause as they turn on the lights, and look at the blood cells flow through the artery. The visuals are pretty cool, I got to admit. They mention that they should get a move on before the white blood cells catch the scent of these intruders. Lance proves, through the glitches, that he slept through every science class he has ever had, going back to grade school, as he asks what in tarnation white blood cells are? “You don’t wanna know,” is the answer he gets.
More glitching. I am about to bust this damn DVD into a few million pieces. We are at the 46 minute mark, and it seems we can’t go on from here. Well, we can if we jump ahead to the 56 minute mark. Since we apparently missed the whole “let’s shrink people!” discussion bit during some brief glitch, I’d just as soon not do that. Damn Blockbuster and their shoddy stuff.
There doesn’t seem to be any way to proceed past minute 46. I’ve tried disk repairs and cleaning and what not, and this is still the most badly made disk I have ever seen. So far, it seems to have defeated any attempts to go on.
So, until later, this review is abandoned.
That’s where this review stood as of mid-October, 2005. Early in January, 2006, however, I found a used VHS copy of the film. We now proceed with our review. Thank you for your patience. No, no…thank you.
Otto calls Lance’s cell phone, and gets Dr. Bikel. Otto wants to speak to Lance, and is hemmed and hawed at by Dr. Bikel, who will try to patch him through.
He does, and Otto tells Lance that things are getting a tad hairy, they can’t find anything on Anthony’s guys, and the army wants to evacuate the city. Lance tells him he hopes they’ll do it sensible, starting with the suburbs so as to prevent traffic problems, and the two of them moan a bit about how this is pretty bad and all that. Otto says he’ll keep trying to find the bomb. And they sign off.
Just in time, too, as it seems the ship is nearing the heart, and everyone but Lance is worried about this. Lance has to be told how powerful the heart is, how it can smash the tiny ship into even tinier bits of near-nothingness. Lance is duly impressed at this revealing look inside the human body. But just the same, he braces for impact along with everyone else.
There’s some lighthearted discussion about what would be the worst way for the heart to destroy them, but of course they go on anyway. The visuals are pretty impressive, having a nice organic look, and also a slight blur to the heart valves as they open and close, as if there’s just a huge pocket of massive organic power just waiting to smash them all in (previously noted) colorful ways. They get though the first valve, and everything is suddenly calm.
Lance breathes a sigh of relief, but Robin notes the reason everything is calm is because Anthony’s heart has stopped. They call to Dr. Bikel and inform him of this. Of course, I imagine he doesn’t need to be told, and sure enough they’re already trying to revive Anthony before he explodes everything. They give him a shot of adrenaline, which starts the heart okay but also makes the heart a bit more frantic, but the ship gets through the heart in one piece and are back into the calmer waters of the blood stream.
Robin makes a joke about “Thank you for flying Air Moran, please return your tray tables to their upright and locked position, enjoy the rest of your ride.” [“Moran” is Anthony’s last name I think.]
Lance chuckles at this “gallows humor,” and when she admits she’s a bit rusty at it, he counters, “Very rusty.” She doesn’t get a chance to use it much she admits. Lance says he feels “jetlagged.” They hope they’ll get to see the outside world again. This scene is really quite nice, a very naturalistic warming between the two characters, and both Robin and Lance sell the scene very well indeed. Acting without seeming to act.
Back in the rest chamber, Male Guy is sleeping, and Lance finds this weird. Robin admits Male Guy’s crazy, but then says people would have to be crazy to allow themselves to be shrunken down and injected inside another person. She’s not crazy, though, she’s a scientist. But she sees something on the outside scanner.
”Guess it’s not a suicide mission for Moran [Anthony],” she says, and shows Lance that there’s a fairly well developed case of cancer growing down here. Male Guy wakes up. Coming through the walls is a sound that is like cannons going off in the distance. Lance asks what that is, and Robin says “They’re attacking.”
A quick shot of the outside shows the SeaView being bombarded by small round cells, which look like platelets but might be cancerous cells. Female Person says that the ship can emit a radioactive shield that will destroy the cells before they can damage the SeaView. “Get ready, because they won’t be far behind,” says Robin, and I’m guessing we’re finally going to meet some white blood cells. Dreaded white blood cells, I might add.
There’s a bit of an educational lesson about white blood cells, how they fight infections and so on, and it’s pointed out that the SeaView would be considered an invading foreign body so they white blood cells wouldn’t be checking for ID, they’d just attack.
Male Guy makes a crack about “intruding bodies,” and Female Person says, “The only reason I don’t charge you with sexual harassment is because I really don’t think you have a dick.”
Everyone chuckles. ”Would you two just fall in love and get it over with?” Robin tells the two of them.
There’s some more banter, and the two Others go off to check the pulse guns. Lance and Robin go off to get some coffee. The Others discuss their jobs and their lives and stuff, and how they have to keep what they do secret from everyone. Gal says her parents still believe she works in Starbucks, while his parents think he plays in the XFL (a now defunct football league). When asked if he’s not worried they’ll find out he’s lying, he says “Nobody watches the XFL.” (See above about defunct.)
Down below, Lance has already drunk his coffee, and Robin is looking at an anatomical display. Scanning shows no detonator in the lungs, so Lance wonders where next, the stomach? Both agree that the digestive acids might damage the detonator (Robin says the intestines are worse). Robin suggests the major arteries.
They watch more cancer cells, and Lance reveals that his wife died of cancer a couple of years back. He mentions his daughter, and how glad he was that he stopped her from getting on the scheduled flight to this (possibly) doomed city. He asks her about family, and she has none, no siblings, both parents dead, no husband or kids, “not even a dog. Are you surprised?”
He says no, he figured she was married to her work. She says that’s true, but also asks him if he’s seen a typical Molecular Biologist?
”What, Brad Pitiful?” he says, and they laugh.
They agree, if they get out of this alive, they’ll have dinner together.
And everyone meets back up in the rec room. They’ve only got two hours left, and Lance says that the detonator and the bomb are in constant communication via a signal, like bats, screaming out their own personal signal to each other at all times; when one falls silent, the other knows danger is near. “It’s kind of like the brain and the body,” Robin notes.
And this is the key phrase. Lance suddenly realizes where the detonator is hidden—in the brain, the largest generator of electricity in the body. Specifically, the brain stem. But they’re too far away, so they call out to Dr. Bikel to have a “shunt” run from their current location to the brain stem, and he says no problemo to that.
Outside, Otto calls and has some bad news. A lot of bad news, in fact. First of all, the news leaked out, so the roads are all clogged. Secondly, they found the van that Anthony rented, and it has a bomb in it, specifically, a nuclear bomb.
Thirdly, they’ve found out that Anthony rented other vans in about ten other major European cities. Otto and his friends are looking for them; oddly he mentions they’ve already found the one in Copenhagen. Go Copenhagen I guess.
Lance tells Otto there’s nothing more he (Otto) can do, so he should get himself out of there pronto and be safe. He says he will.
Dr. Bikel thrusts a needle into Anthony’s gut, and Robin pilots expertly into it. (The shot of the needle penetrating the arterial wall was really quite nice, though too brief.) The ship sails through the tube and into the brain area, and WOW, some gnarly thing with lots of legs is following close on the SeaView’s heels. It appears, in its brief shot, to be the beast depicted on the cover, but it looks far better in the film.
And suddenly, they get a proximity warning on the Proximity Warning device. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bloodstream,” sighs Guy, and yup, it’s the long-promised attack of the while blood cells. Guy and Gal run off to the pulse cannons, and it the resultant sequence is very much like the dogfight scenes from the first Star Wars movie. The while blood cells are semi-transparent blobs with stubby tentacles and there are a lot of them. Gal, who I am sorry to report is a pretty bad actress, decides to take a portable pulse gun topside to shoot the cells. Guy points out this is suicide (I point out it sounds like a plot contrivance), and she says that when the cells overwhelm the ship that will be suicide too.
Lance spots the detonator. We see something vague through the cloud of white blood cells, but I’ll take his word for it, seeing as it’s Lance Fricken Henriksen.
Gal kisses Guy in the midst of battle (everything stops politely for this) and says she’s always wanted to do that. Well, despite the fact that this is what he always wanted, Guy is none too pleased at this show of passion late in the game, and him in no position to take the opportunity. Actually, he just uses a four letter word, but I think I’ve translated adequately. And she goes to suit up, while Robin notes that the cells have started attaching themselves to the ship.
So Gal floats out in a little shuttlecraft and fries the cells clinging to the SeaView. (It looked for a moment like she also tore a hole in the side, but that must have been a decal or something. And the SeaView is free…because the white cells have found a new target.
Yeah, you guessed it. They swarm all over the shuttlecraft and start cracking the windows. She calls to Guy and tells him she loves him, and then the white cells crush the shuttlecraft to flinders. Guy is really unhappy about this, and he leaves his pulse cannon post. To go where, we don’t see. In the cockpit, Lance and Robin are very very sad about Gal’s sacrifice.
Robin notes that they’re doomed, that there are too many cells and they can’t get to the detonator, also Christmas is cancelled and Windows needs too many patches. Lance says she should drop him off at the detonator and he’ll take care of that while she and Guy escape, but Robin says he wouldn’t last long enough out there to do anything. But she has an idea.
She calls Dr. Bikel and asks if anyone topside has an illness, “HIV, TB, leukemia?” Geeze Louise, lady! Why not ask if they’re loveless and alone and pay too much in taxes!
Dr. Bikel says, “Sorry, we’re fine.” Just then Otto shows up…I thought Lance told him to get out of town, but maybe my ears had tiny spaceships in them just then and I misheard. Dr. Bikel asks him if he knows the situation, and Otto says yes, but not before going into a very convenient coughing fit. Wow, maybe he has TB, AIDS, all kinds of cancer, T-Virus, brain fever, food poisoning, pollen allergies, a bad back and questionable taste in music, and everyone (but, ultimately, him) will be saved!
Dr. Bikel seems to think so. He tells Otto he needs some of his blood (even though he ONLY has a cold). Robin tells him to inject it where the SeaView is, and Dr. Bikel says he’s “already on it.” Great minds think alike, eh? Lance wonders what’s up, and this time we do get a nice image of a needle in the artery, shooting out Otto cells. Lance wises up then.
See, this will be something new for the white blood cells to attack, thus (at least) dividing their forces. Freed of white cells (I don’t really think it works like that—white blood cells attack and cling to invading bodies permanently, they don’t float off to the next crime when the perp is dead), the SeaView travels along the brain to the detonator. Lance admires the handiwork here. Noting they only have twenty-four minutes, Robin asks if Lance has enough time to disarm it. He says he could disarm the Big Bang in twenty-four minutes. As he walks away, Robin smiles broadly and whispers, “Bullsh*t.”
Outside, trouble brews, specifically, it looks like Anthony is waking up. What the hell? Wouldn’t they have kept him on a sedative drip? Actually, he seems to be having another attack. They can’t give more adrenaline, Anthony would die then, and they can’t use a defribillator, the electric charge would kill the SeaView. Lance goes to the SeaView corridor, and luckily Guy just happens to be there (face streaked with tears but otherwise stoic). Lance asks him if he can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. Actually, he didn’t ask that, I just threw that out for you Jon Pertwee fans. He asks him if he can reverse the polarity of the pulse cannons, and yes, Guy can do that. Apparently, this can shock Anthony into staying alive. Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Staying alive!
Sorry, don’t know what made me go all disco like that.
Anyway, Guy starts on his polarity-reversing, and Anthony flatlines, so Dr. Bikel pastes up the defrilibrator paddles and prepares to blast the body. Lance says they only need seconds and Dr. Bikel says they don’t have seconds. Guy needs someone to operate the gun, so Lance goes off to do that. Guy finishes just in the nick of time, and he and Lance shoot pulse cannons at some round thing at the same time that Dr. Bikel applies the paddles.
It doesn’t work at first, so all three of them do the same again, and this time Anthony’s heart starts beating. Everyone breathes a well-earned sigh of relief.
Lance suits up, and Guy insists on coming with, saying he can watch Lance’s back, but Lance is not going to risk this. Finally, Guy tells Lance that perhaps this might seem crazy, but he thinks Gal is still alive out there.
Lance grudgingly tells him to hurry up, “before I get a dose of reality.”
And they hove off in the other two shuttlecraft (one person in each). Lance studies the detonator, and he says that the “encoding” has been switched, so now it’s all totally random and he’d need a powerful mainframe for a couple of days to figure it out. But they only have nine and a half minutes.
In the large world, Dr. Bikel and Otto commiserate about this short amount of time. And Lance’s cell phone rings. It’s his daughter. Remember her? They patch her through to him, and everyone listens while they talk. She’s in Paris, because of a plane delay, and I don’t remember if Paris was one of the cities that has a bomb in it. I would suspect yes, because this will give him some motivation to defuse this bomb in double-quick time. Otherwise, there’s no real reason to put her back in the movie. Or in the movie in the first place, to be brutally honest.
Lance tells her to stay put, and he’ll be there as soon as he can. They say they love each other and sign off. Robin tells Lance he can do this, he can disarm the bomb. Guy says just yank it off, but Lance says that would send the “death signal” and all the nukes would go off.
And Lance develops an insight. He thinks that Anthony must have known that, if the detonator triggers, it would be worse than what he (Anthony) really wanted. Maybe Anthony didn’t really want to destroy lots of stuff (though he could have fooled me, but admittedly I am not Lance Henriksen). He asks Robin for the numerical equation for the word “disarm” and she reads the numbers to him. He writes them on his hand, and as we see the detonator in close-up, we see that the little pod components on its surface have numbers on them. It’s like a Lite Brite of Doom in its own way.
Lance extends the Waldoes, and goes to cut the circuits in the order in the word. But Guy has a thought and starts venting wildly about not sleeping and stuff, and they yell at him to cut to the chase and he asks, wasn’t Anthony from some country where they speak Spanish? So why would he use an English word? Lance notes this logic and asks for the Spanish word for “disarm,” which turns out to be “disarma” so, um, not a whole lot of diff there, and the first real “We need more running time” stumble.
Anyway, Lance gets the numbers for the Spanish word, and he gets to work. He pulls out the first circuit, which has a four on it—but that doesn’t stop the signal! Oh no! Everyone panics (except Lance), and the seconds tick down, and he doesn’t know what to pull next. The suggestion is “seven” but apparently there isn’t a seven anywhere on these circuits. But Lance remembers Anthony’s chest tattoo, which was of three sevens in a sort of slot machine scenario (we cut away for a shot of this). And, with less than two seconds, he finds the 777 circuit and pulls it, and the signal stops, and the world is saved and everyone can afford to replace the underwear they have, no doubt, stained beyond repair. Go Lance!
And yes, the relief on all fronts is palpable.
Of course, we still have around ten minutes to go, and that briefly seen monster has remained briefly seen…cue the monster! Robin identifies it as a skin mite, and it’s a pretty damned impressive creature, much better looking than the front of the box would have you expect. It swims through the brain fluid and grabs onto Guy’s shuttlecraft, scuttling all over it most impressively. Somehow it seems to know where the front window is, and it positions its mouth right over it, gnarling its jaw-hole.
Then it thrusts out a needle-like proboscis and skewers Guy, and basically kills him. It seems to know that’s all the edibles to be had, and being still hungry it tosses the craft aside and swims for Lance’s pod, and grabs onto that.
I don’t know how much if this is based on real skin mites, but I suspect they wouldn’t do a lot of swimming. Could be wrong, though, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Inside, Robin, who is naturally aghast, sits at the controls and uses the SeaView to ram the skin mite off Lance’s case. (It squeals a bit in frustration, which seems a bit silly, but I think we can cut it some slack here.) However, the ramming also damaged the SeaView (there’s an “Emergency Hull Breach” sign that lights up) so she runs off to get into her diving suit as the mite decides the SeaView looks like it might be a nicer meal.
Again, the realization of this creature is really well-done, pretty disgusting. Robin gets into another shuttlecraft and takes off. The mite seems to realize the only organic bit has left the SeaView, and it swims after Robin as the damage on board takes its toll, and the SeaView explodes.
Well, Lance thinks that Robin is dead too. Even worse, Anthony is waking up! Dr. Bikel calls Lance and tells him that extraction is going to be “difficult” but they’ll work out something. Anthony pretends he’s still asleep. Again, wouldn’t they keep him on a sedative drip or, at the very least, strap him down? Perhaps since they couldn’t use X-rays they figured he was pretty well damaged, but you’d think caution would be your by-word. Of course, he was also shot. I still think “caution” is a good by-word.
Well…maybe he isn’t waking up. Someone opened his eyes, though, in close-up and then looked furtive. But we next see Dr. Bikel jamming a friggin’ needle into Anthony’s neck, and if Anthony’s awake he is an incredibly cool customer. Dr. Bikel even jams it in a couple of times until Lance sees it.
(At first I had the notion that Anthony had somehow knocked out some other person and switched bodies—given that Dr. Bikel jabbed a needle and Lance couldn’t see it--but then I realized he would have had to switch tattoos as well.)
Robin calls on the radio, and Lance is glad to hear she’s alive, but she warns him not to come anywhere near her as she’s being chased by the skin mite. Lance shrugs this off and goes to the rescue anyway.
The mite is clambering all over the shuttlecraft. Lance shows up and shoots pulse cannons at the mite and seems to kill it (I guess), while Robin puts on her helmet and uses the escape hatch. She swims over the Lance as white blood cells take off after the abandoned shuttlecraft.
Lance pilots the ship to the needle, and Dr. Bikel extracts them. He holds the needle up, and damn, Anthony is one cool customer. He opens his eyes, head-butts Dr. Bikel and grabs the needle. “Death to all pawns of the United States!” he says, holding the needle up (how he could know what was going on, or guess what was in the needle given the information he could get when he awoke, is a question best left unasked).
Just then, Otto comes back from the bathroom or something, and he shoots Anthony. Anthony collapses, throwing the needle high in the air, and Dr. Bikel scrambles on the floor like a break-dancer and catches it. Go Dr. Bikel!
Otto leans over the dead Anthony and says “Death to all a**holes of the world.”
Dr. Bikel talks to Lance by just speaking toward the hypodermic, and says they’ll be restored to normal. Lance asks a favor, “I’ve always wanted to be a little taller.”
Dr. Bikel laughs and says, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Inside the shuttlecraft, Robin says “I for one, am never, ever going to do this again.” Lance asks if they’re still on for dinner, Robin says sure, but then Lance remembers he has to meet his daughter in Paris. “I’ve always wanted to see Paris,” Robin says.
They mention something about “look at the size of his head” and how it’s like the Moon, only hairy. Not sure what they’re talking about, because when we switch to Dr. Bikel (and Otto) preparing to start the “reintegration,” the two of them are in another room.
Lance asks what reintegration will feel like. Robin says, “Like this,” and gives him a big ole kiss. And there’s a lot of bright light in the faces of Dr. Bikel (and Otto) as reintegration takes place economically off-screen..
Then we cut to Lance, walking into the Parisian airport to meet his daughter. He throws his cell phone on the floor. Geez, last time I saw him in a Christian McIntire movie, he threw an umbrella through a window. Don’t litter, Lance!
Lance and his daughter are really glad to see each other. “You know, you look a little bit taller I think,” she says, and Lance tells her “It’s a long story. Let’s get out of here.”
No sign of Robin anywhere, and I have to wonder a bit about that. (Maybe she’s already at the restaurant.) Nevertheless, we fade to black, and the credits. Since this is VHS they’re a bit hard to read so if you’re really hot to know who did what, check the IMDB.
Well, this was fun. It started out kind of slow and awkward, but it never stopped moving and was pretty well put together. Damn, Christian McIntire is definitely one of the good ones. I like the fact that he’s not afraid of being subtle—for example, before he rewires the guns, Guy (not the best actor) just stands in the corridor, looking deflated, with tear stains down his cheeks. It would have been really easy to inflate this, to make him raving about the injustice of it all; instead, it’s very quiet and understated. You could miss it if you weren’t careful.
Like Guy, the acting here was (with some exceptions) mostly okay and so-so, aside from Gal who didn’t seem to have any expression other than smirky. Okay, in her death scene, she was a bit more subtle and showed the reality beneath the façade, but that was a bit little and a bit late.
So, acting not a plus…except for the main event: Lance and Robin, who were outstanding, easily making one overlook the mediocre performances around them. I expect that from Lance, but Robin Givens was a revelation here. What else has she been in? All I remember about her was that she was involved with Mike Tyson somehow. I think. Man, I gotta track down some of her stuff.
And the visual effects were good, too. Remember how I said earlier how they would probably be “nice try but no cigar”? Well, I don’t either but these were really good.
I just wish the damned DVD worked. You’d think with technology that could detonate atomic bombs all over Europe, and miniaturize submarines, we’d have reliable DVD repair. Or reliable merchants to not sell you damaged ones. Man, this is how people like Anthony get those chips on their shoulders. I can just imagine him getting burned on a DVD like this and thinking, Man, that was over five dollars for this and it doesn't work! The whole capitalist system sucks, and I am going to blast it.
Watch out, world.