30 December 2004 | supertom-3
Surprisingly intelligent Dolph movie.
This movie was a surprise to me and I really liked it. Dolph at the time had, had a string of rubbish movies but this came along and had a little bit of depth and a good twisty plot. Think Enemy Of The State, with Eraser and a bit of martial arts. Dolph plays a former FBI agent who runs a witness relocation programme, where he basically hides people away and gives them new lives, for a nice large fee. At the same time he still has the FBI, CIA and NSA all on his case. The NSA allow Price (Lundgren) to use the complex computer system, Daedulas, which he developed, and in return Dolph has to do two jobs a year for them, hiding people they want hidden. The reason that Price now works independently is that he was working for the government hiding away some less than savoury characters and the Pentagon shut down the operation. The story here involves Price getting involved with a government witness, Paul Elkert, about to turn states evidence over a giant massive corporation Icarus (Some Greek mythological names in this film!) and their links to Russian mafia. At the same time the Russians want Elkert dead because he stole an obscene amount of money from them. Price reluctantly agrees to hide away Elkert, knowing full well that the Agencies will be sniffing around him, but Elkert offers him a lot of money and since Price's restaurant (the cover for his real work) is losing so much money, he needs it. So Price and his crew hide away Elkert, doing a real thorough job because the NSA have access to Daedulas and basically know where Prices clients end up. Price makes sure Elkert goes beyond the vanishing point. The problem is that Elkert could be being tracked by the Cleaner, an assassin responsible for many government hits. As the plot progresses Price realises there are people inside the agencies working against and soon suspects his best friend Sonny and Elkerts former assistant Renee as the cleaner, but who is it? The plot moves along nicely and although they allow it to get a bit convoluted at times, simply because its 2 hours of movie material crammed into 90 minutes, it has your requisite twists and some surprising intelligence. Prices organisation is believable, you'd trust him in real life to hide you away unlike the similar government operation in Schwarzeneggers Eraser which was written almost comic book like. Price is an intimidating character, not because Dolph Lundgrens 6,5ft frame of muscle is playing him but because he is an intelligent character. This isn't original stuff but there's a nice quick pace to the movie and as a techno thriller it is a good watch.
Action here is not as plentiful as some other Dolph films but since the film is primarily a thriller that isn't important. While the gunfights are strictly routine, with a decent one at the end, the opening action scene is very good, with a well choreographed airport chase, and there are some good fight scenes. Dolph is given free reign to use his martial arts, which is good and the fights are well done, with some crunching sound effects. The freeze frame fight scenes work at times but in others it is overused and breaks up the flow. As well as that the film has plenty of explosions and sells itself as a good Dolph movie.
The best part of the movie is the cinematography which has a nice gloss to it. Sylvain Braunt an Emmy nominee does a great job in making this film look far beyond the 5 million budget and giving at a nice sheen that Van Dammes considerably more lavish films have. Some scenes are extremely well shot and it just gives the film that techno thriller vibe. The direction is functional form Marc Grenier who keeps things moving well but occasionally he lacks conviction while the score is at times grating during the action. The non action score is nice with a tinny synth sound adding to the atmosphere. Another problem is the fact that during production it obviously snowed in Canada where it was filmed and throughout the picture Dolph and his peeps move around the country and no matter how much he moves throughout the states, it always seems to be snowing. For a movie this size they have to put up with the "shoot now or never!" scenario but that doesn't really detract too much.
The cast are good and that helps. In recent years the support cast in some Dolph films have been poor, particularly if you watch upcoming movie Retrograde. However everyone does a good job here and Dolph holds the line well, really doing well with his character and giving him an intensity. Overall this is a very professional effort that puts to shame many Hollywood productions and while its not original and borrows elements off other films it has a depth and level of research that many B-movies don't have. ***