The future of mankind has been stolen. Who controls our destiny now?
There are really only two types of cop movie. There's the vigilante cop who doesn't play by the rules, gets suspended by his Captain and takes matters into his own hands to revenge his dead partner. Then there is the detective who is recruited by a special government agency to do an off-the-books mission to bring down an old enemy that got away from him, and gets double crossed for his efforts. In both cases the cop can be a drunk and/or drug user. Final Equinox is the latter type of cop movie, albeit with a sci-fi edge to it, and Joe Lara is that drunk, drugged up detective.
Joe Lara is a cop returning home from holiday with his girl. We are told it's the 'near future' but Lara is on a shuttle going past a space station so I don't know what they were thinking in 1995 when this flick came out. They arrive home and immediately Lara gets into a fight with his missus for some reason, and she leaves him home alone to get drunk. Simultaneously a gang of mercenaries do a break-and-enter at a security complex and steal an artefact, then organise a deal to sell it in an abandoned factory complex to a buyer. Using his 'near future' technology, the mercenary can see into the suitcase without it being open and notices the money is tainted. Martin Kove gives orders whilst lighting a cigar, gunfire ensues and the buyer ends up dead.
Joe Lara on the scene of the dead buyer the next day, sporting a hangover and bad breath, gets interrupted during his analysis of the scene by Commander Dreg who takes control of the case and wants to speak to Lara about a special mission. So they go to a titty bar (of course). Dreg is from some future CIA equivalent and really wants this artefact for some unexplained reason. Lara agrees to help because Kove is the 'one that got away' bad guy that he regrets having never caught.
Things don't go to plan when Lara tries the same trade as the first buyer and gets kidnapped, drugged, beaten and eventually released for a final chance at getting the money to them. He gets rescued by scientist-turned-hobo David Warner, who must have been low on cash this year, and tells Lara about the artefact. Basically it's an alien device that looks like a bowling pin painted silver with glyphs on the side of it and it predates all civilisation. Warner has worked out that turning the device on will terraform any planet with "trees and ferns", destroying what is already there. With that obvious power advantage Lara can see why Commander Dreg is desparate to have the device as well.
There are two reviews for Final Equinox on IMDB and as usual with the reviews on that site, are complete polar opposites. One reviewer gives is 9/10 saying it is one of the best films of its time. The other gives it 1/10 saying if you want a headache, watch this movie. I'm sitting in the middle - this one was all right, but only just. It was totally devoid of humour and the producers were obviously trying hard to make an interesting action-thriller with a sci-fi tone to it. The problems are many but most can be explained away by the low budget. This was probably made for cable television and on a tight time line. Things like the night time scenes being obviously filmed during the day but with a blue lens on the camera support this. If it wasn't for the space shuttle scene at the beginning (and the ludicrous ending) there wouldn't be much 'near future' about this at all.
Actually I lie about the humour. Whoever chose Martin Kove's outfit was totally having a laugh. Nice chains! (see the last screenshot at the end of this review). And Lara's straight-line eyebrows always raise a smile (though they don't raise his eyebrows, geddit?).
Most of the action isn't bad. There's about three shootouts and Lara kicks a few people around as well. Nothing hugely memorable in the action but it does the job. No explosions at all, which is a big disappointment. The final fight is easily the most interesting and some tension is actually built around this alien artefact and what would happen if it was actually used. Along with the bar scene there's also two random sex scenes; hooray for boobies and all that.
Hang in there for the craptacular ending. Atrocious 90's special effects that you couldn't even get away with in a children's TV show these days are definitely the highlight and the only other (unintentional) piece of humour in the whole affair. Worth the $2 entry alone.
Decent enough full frame picture though the dark scenes are pretty lowly lit. The bit-rate is low on this cheapo DVD so macro-blocking is evident in fast scenes. The audio is generally okay but I had to turn it up loud to hear conversations; sometimes it seems there was no ADR and the actors were barely whispering, or bad synth music was laid over the top in post. Runtime approx. 90 minutes.
If you pick up the $2 RRP Flashback Entertainment DVD, ignore the lengthy synopsis and screenshots on the back. It's for another sci-fi movie starring Stephen Nichols called Phoenix! It doesn't sound bad actually so I might track it down.
A two dollar store. Outside Australia I think this might only be available on VHS.
Can't find one, sorry!