13 November 2011 | Bloodwank
Snooze making mystery bore
I used to love afternoon detective shows. Columbo, Quincy, Ironside, even the newer crop like Diagnosis Murder and Monk. Murder mysteries, kooky maverick investigators and everything wrapped up in a speedy blast of low key suspense and twists. Cardiac Arrest is reminiscent of that whole realm of television, but it's stretched out over 93 minutes and has little suspense or flair. A sensational plot (heart theft, medical skulduggery) gives way to uninspired filler, underpowered acting and a distinct lack of thrills, TV movie level direction keeps this crawling along at the bare minimum pace required to keep from flatlining and the premise goes sadly wasted. At least Garry Goodrow is fairly good value as the cop investigating; he does his level best with the material, projecting a certain neat sense of kooky dedication. Michael Paul Chan is also solid as his refreshingly cliché free Asian partner. Max Gail and Susan O'Connell emote to the best of their abilities as a couple who get involved, there's a brief appearance for a young Fred Ward, side roles by and large make little to no impression or are simply hammy. A modicum of interest is provided by the late 70's San Francisco setting, in intervening years such city-scapes and their portrayal on film has perhaps changed forever, with its resolute ordinariness the film gains a certain time capsule quality. Also it's almost interesting to watch a film with realistic, human characters pretty much across the board, people that aren't glamorous, that make mistakes and don't seem to yell "I'm in a movie" by their very presence. But both these points still need some kind of underlying tension and there just isn't any so the film falls almost wholly flat. Its just dull, dull viewing, it picks up in the final quarter hour or so but its too little too late. The length really hurts this one, at half its length it could be a good TV episode, at 70 to 75 minutes it could have been a good pilot episode, but at over an hour and a half there just isn't enough there, and the characters don't stand out enough for any digressions (such as the hero interrupted whilst with his girlfriend) to work. I don't like to rag on films like this, for I enjoy cinema at most levels of quality, but this really was a stinker and not one that I would recommend to, well anyone.