The first step's a killer.
I was pretty excited to trip over this in a charity shop. Eric Roberts and Jeff Fahey in a Nu Image produced mid-90's action film involving freebasing off cliffs? The gorgeous Pamela Gidley aka Cherry 2000 as the lead heroine? Directed by John Irvin who was also responsible for Arnie's underrated classic Raw Deal? Where do I sign?
Fahey is Dex Dellum (great name), the owner of a wildlife magazine that employs photographer Katy Mazur (Pamela Gidley), who is also his fiancée. He sends her to Swaziland to take photos of a rare bird for his magazine but in the flight over she sees a man jump from a cliff, presumably to his death. When trying to get help from the hotel manager, Grant Orion (Eric Roberts) waltzes in all cocky delcaring himself not dead. It turns out he's a movie stuntman and a bit of a womaniser as he quickly gets Katy into bed (but... she's engaged!!) They go bird watching and it's all rather romantic but it soon ends when Katy's drink is drugged and she falls unconscious.
When she awakes and returns to London to a hotel room, her belongings are quickly ripped apart by Customs who are looking for something but won't say what. Her passport confiscated, Katy goes to see Grant one last time at a restaurant but they are soon under attack by machine gun fire. Even the chef, pissed off at the destruction of his kitchen, gets in on it with his cleaver. Fleeing to Grant's hidden fortress, he explains to Katy who he really is, how Dex Dellum is involved and who she can really trust.
This was not really what I expected, but overall I enjoyed it. I didn't think I would after the first half an hour of sight-seeing, bird watching, bad come-on lines, Jeff Fahey's Foghorn Leghorn accent and the softcore sex scene that went on longer (and from more angles) than it really needed to. But by the 45 minute mark (yes it does take that long) the action kicks in. This isn't a smash-em-up or beat-em-up movie by any stretch of the definitions; the action quotients come from undercover agents, guys in suits with sunglasses, cops who aren't really cops, etc. Lot's of twists and intrigue keeps this movie kicking along at a decent pace, after the first half at least.
If you think Jeff Fahey's accent was funny, wait till you see Eric Roberts' hair. The poster doesn't do it justice. He has it filled with so much brill cream that it stands on end like he's taking a part in Grease. Other than that Roberts' plays the character pretty straight and even pulls out a decent one liner at the end of the film: "Now that's what I call shitkickin'." When the action does arrive we get a lot of firefights out in the open in parks, restaurants etc. as assassins try to take out Grant, Katy or both. There's a cool scene in Grant's fortress where a squad of soldiers manage to break in and Grant has traps laying in wait for them. He finally trips a fifteen second timer and he and Katy jump from the building just in time for it to explode.
There's a guy in this called Warrick Grier who plays a crazy albino "doctor" in a lime green suit. He has no lines; all the acting is done by his insane facial expressions as he gives the semi-comotose Katy a shot of something to make her talk. He was an odd one out in Freefall, and looking at his filmography the guy always plays fifth-banana roles like "Cop" in John Barrett's "To the Death", "Margie's Lover" in Peter Weller's "Styx", "Da Costa" in JCVD's "Wake of Death". Most recently he played a guy called Calin in Death Race 2, a movie that I really need to get around to reviewing.
I guess that my only real complaint is that the editing of the first half could have been shaved by at least ten minutes and brought this sucker in around 84 minutes runtime. It is a bit blah in the beginning, you need to perservere and realise that you aren't in for a 'edge of your seat' ride, more likely a raised eyebrow every now and then. After the intial excitement from picking up the disc and realising who was involved in it, I suppose I am a bit dissapointed that I didn't get the roller-coaster ride I wanted, but that's probably my fault. What I did get was a pretty okay "conspiracy thriller" with a bit of action and some unintentional hilarity. We didn't really need to see a sweaty Eric Roberts having a go with Pamela Gidley in quite so much detail though, thanks very much.
Pretty soft Midday Movie feel to this R4 disc by Ninth Dimension. Full screen presentation with washed out colours and generic sound but it's all serviceable and the dark scenes aren't that muddy. IMDB says this was filmed in 2.35:1 scope ratio but I find that hard to believe; though the Wikipedia entry says the movie was prepared for theatrical release before being dumped on VHS so I guess it's conceivable. Runtime 94 minutes.
Charity shop for a few dollars.