10 December 2004 | aloep
Has it's faults, but overall it's a fairly enjoyable movie that certainly passes the time.
It's the millennium and the city of Los Angeles is now controlled by "California Corporation", led by Edward Jamison who is a particularly ruthless leader. For example, he has made it illegal to turn off the corporations news broadcast and doesn't seem to care if there's human casualties in a hostage situation as long as the target is taken out. Norman "Slash" Gallagher is violently opposed to the corporation, and says "California Corporation took Los Angeles away from us. Now we are here to take it back.". From what we see, the corporation is corrupt and Slash more or less has the right idea but unfortunately he makes his point in the wrong way which involves killing a lot of innocent civilians. After a large scale shootout and a bus chase, rookie cop Decoda arrests Norman and he is sentenced to "holographic stasis" where their mind and soul is stored on a computer to be reprogrammed as a good citizen and released back into society. 5 years later, when Slash is set to be released, a former employee of the corp. hacks into the system and frees Slash as a hologram before he can be reprogrammed. Here, he will go on his rampage to prove his point once again but this time he can walk through walls, fire, anything and gunfire has no effect on him. Eventually Slash shoots Decoda and minutes before dying, his girlfriend Natalie brings him back as a hologram which finally gives him the power and the strength to take out Slash once and for all.
I'd read several negative reviews on this but wanted to see it anyway as by now I've nearly all of PM Entertainment's post 1993 movies. It's nowhere near PM's best movie but it's far from their worst and provides a decently entertaining 90 minutes. A fun enough premise, tons of explosions, car wrecks and gunfire aplenty and the effects are surprisingly good for direct to video material of the time. The action scenes are especially polished and are trademark PM. The large scale intro includes a large number of vehicles exploding and we have the typical car chase in which Slash hijacks a city bus and chases after a limo containing the governor and Decoda which ends in a bang and the governor being killed. The explosions are pretty and the addition of futuristic vehicles is a nice touch, as many DTV movies don't have the budget to cover that. Of course now that we're passed 2000 it looks a little silly but that's the sort of thing we have to accept. Look at the world Escape From New York portrays as 1997.
However, the movie is certainly not without it's faults and there were certain things which left me puzzled. What kind of a hero is Decoda when he's perfectly willing to go by the rules that the corporation has set? Can't he see that Jamison is a ruthless leader who is no better than Slash and all he wants is power? Even after Jamison makes it clear that he doesn't care about casualties as long as Slash is taken down, he still accepts it and only turns on Jamison after he returns as a hologram. Also, this is after Decoda knows that gunfire has no effect on Slash, so why keep holding him up with large groups of armed Police? That's just asking for casualties. I don't really know why it didn't occur to any of them to put somebody into "holographic stasis" to go after Slash, as that is the only way he could be taken out. Also, citizens appear to be driving sleek, futuristic vehicles so why are the police driving old Ford Taurus's, Mazda MPV's and Chevrolet Caprice's? There are also certain scenes which lead to nowhere. One was a warehouse shootout which appears to be filmed at the docks at Long Beach and the soul purpose of it being there seemed to be that the director just felt it had been too long since the last action scene, so he just threw that in for good measure. There is also a sex scene involving Slash and his girlfriend I presume who is killed off near the start but is this necessary? What's the point in showing us Decoda taking a virtual reality course? Sure, it shows he has a perfect shot but that is now useless because Slash is a hologram and gunfire has no effect.
Fortunately however, none of the above has a particularly large impact on the entertainment value of the movie itself and it remains entertaining throughout and moves quickly enough for much of it's runtime.
Evan Lurie is especially entertaining as the character of Slash Gallagher. Granted, what he does doesn't require a great deal of effort in the thespian department but he plays the character in a suitably over the top fashion about as well as anyone could do in a movie like this. William Sanderson as the up his own arse "genius" computer geek is fun, as is Nicholas Worth as "One Eye" who attacks Sanderson's character with a bunch of ridiculous computer related insults such as "You little computer virus" or "You little gigabyte chipset"! All in all, the villains get two thumbs up from me and appear to be having fun themselves playing the parts. But this leads to one of the films greatest problems, which is Joe Lara's incredibly bland hero. He makes the mistake of playing the character straight and is completely overshadowed by the far more charismatic bunch of baddies, and given the dullness of his character and the fact he keeps associating with Jamison, I found it hard to route for him as the hero until he finally turned on Jamison!
Overall, Hologram Man is badly flawed but it's certainly an entertaining movie. If your expectations aren't too high and you don't take it too seriously, then this is an enjoyable little flick. With a better hero and slightly more fluid direction, we could have had a DTV winner on our hands but as it stands, it's worth a watch nonetheless.
By the way the bus chase is certainly not a rip off of Speed. The chase is typical PM fare, and almost all of their action movies from this period include some form of vehicle chase. Plus this movie has a copyright date of 1994 at the end credits, so it's most likely that it was filmed before Speed came out.