Saturday, May 31, 2008


This is an intriguing film with quite a pedigree but it absolutely tanked at the box office. It made only $67,000 in Australia and I don't believe it was ever released theatrically in North America. If it was, it never made it to my part of the country.
It was directed by Steve Lisberger who had co-written and directed TRON, and produced by Gary Kurtz, who had produced two little films called Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
The Star Wars connection continues as the film stars Mark Hamill as Tasker, a bounty hunter who, along with his partner Belitski (played by Kitty Aldridge), is chasing a mysterious man named Byron, played by the late Bob Peck. They are tracking him across a barren and ravaged Earth that is scoured by a never-ending wind, a slipstream. They capture Byron but soon encounter a hapless adventurer named Owens (played by Bill Paxton) who realizes that the reward for Byron must be fairly rich, so he steals Byron away from Tasker.
And so begins a chase across country. The main mode of travel is ultra-light aircraft and there is some spectacular flying footage that probably looked great on a theatre screen. Or even a decent DVD transfer.
Along the way, Owens finds out that Byron is actually an android wanted by the law for killing his master, but Owens can't help but become friends with Byron. They make their way to an underground museum where a group of people (somehow) live in luxury, and Owens realizes that he can't turn his friend in. But the museum people, led by F. Murray Abraham, have a secret, and Tasker and Belitski show up just in time for a big shootout. Ben Kingsley was also in this movie, but I must have turned away for thirty seconds and missed him. Even Robbie Coltrane has a bit-part in this.
This isn't a half-bad movie. The cast is uniformly solid, especially Bob Peck, and the special effects by Brian Johnston are pretty good. Elmer Bernstein's score is a little much at times -- perhaps he was taking the Star Wars connection a little too seriously, and at times it sounds like he's trying to outdo John Williams. And that ain't ever gonna happen.
Peck went on to appear in Jurassic Park before passing away in 1999. Hamill continues to act and do voice-over work, probably most famous now as The Joker in the various Batman cartoons of the last 15 years. Paxton also continues to work, while Kingsley and Abraham continue to live off their Oscar glory. Aldridge married singer Mark Knopfler, which naturally explains his song Darling Kitty. I guess he wasn't singing to his cat after all.
This poster for a DVD release is pretty funny. None of the actors are depicted as how they appear in the movie. I think they're using a Paxton image from Apollo 13, and, far from an Air Force crewcut, Paxton has long shoulder-length locks in this movie. God knows where they got the one of Abraham. Hamill appears the closest to how he is depicted in the film, but he's blond in the movie, not airbrushed grey as presented here.

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