Kidnapping the President is worth a hell of a lot of money.
Michael Madsen plays Nick, an ex-stunt driver who is serving time for a petty crime. While being transferred to prison the bus is attacked and rolls. A group of armed militants free Nick, kill the other prisoners and take Nick hostage. He is taken to a secret base known as Area 55 where he is informed of a plan that will see him driving a getaway vehicle in a bank heist because he's such an awesome stunt driver. He is forced to do this as they have his wife held captive. The heist goes smoothly, with about a hundred explosions along the way and destruction of most of the police force squad cars, and Nick thinks that he and his wife will be set free. Keith David (They Live) who runs Area 55 has other ideas - kidnap the President of the United States and sell him to the highest bidder.
This is what I'm talking about, right here. Movies like this are why I got into this game in the first place. Holy hell you couldn't cram more action into a movie if you tried. This is 100 solid minutes of car chases, explosions and fire-fights. I lost track of how many squad cars were blown up in this film. The first 15 minutes was so jammed packed with excitement that I felt sad, because traditionally the welcome is warn out thereafter until the final 20 minute finale. I was pleasently surprised - actually ecstatic - to see that this movie simply does not stop. After the massive pile up in the beginning we cut instantly to a strip club being patroned by none other than Dayton Callie, a true TV 'that guy' who then went on to have roles in Undisputed and JCVD's Derailed. He plays Bela, a mechanic and safe-house to Nick early on and later in the film. He also gets the funniest line in the movie; running towards the bad guys brandishing a gun yelling "Cherry Coke!!!".
After the initial kidnapping of Nick he is forced to drive again and be the getaway driver for the kidnapping of the President. If the action wasn't large-scale enough for you in the opening sequence then strap yourself in for the second act. I'm talking cars flying over bridges. I'm talking cars flying through the sides of trucks. Multiple helicopters being shot out of the sky by truck-mounted artillery, and landing on yet more piles of police cars. The old favourite of crashing through a fruit stand is multiplied as Nick crashes through an entire fruit market in a sixteen-wheeler. It all culminates in the remote detonation of a roadblock that causes squad car after squad car (I counted about 25) to fly, burning, into the ground all while a choir sings over the sounds of explosions. Sensational.
The cover of my DVD proudly states in font as large as the movie title itself "The greatest crash movie ever made!! The best car chase since Bullitt!! The fastest action movie you'll ever see!!" Yes, they did use double esclamation marks there, but I know how they feel. I am finding it hard to describe just how downright awesome this movie is. It's not a funny action movie ala 48 Hours, this is a late 90's explosive bank heist come kidnapping action movie that borrows ideas heavily from Die Hard with a Vengeance (in that the bank heist is only a cover for what would follow after) but should have come out ten years earlier. You wouldn't think that this is a PM Entertainment movie either. This comes from the same company that seven years earlier made Repo Jake and TWO years earlier made the hideous To the Limit. They had never up until this point demonstrated such professionalism with their movies - at least with the ones that I have seen so far. This could have easily had a small-scale theatrical run for the traditional action movie aficionado.
Michael Madsen, who has been riding the DTV train of late, is solid if understated in this. In fact all the actors in the movie take back seat to the action, which I feel is how a true action movie that doesn't focus on a particular Seagal, Van-Damme or Lundgren should be. There is not much in the acting department that I can point out as especially interesting or powerful. I will say that Keith David really hams it up as the mastermind of the whole operation; he alternates between spitting bile at his underlings to drinking champagne and laughing as he watches his plan unfold. He describes this movie well when after witnessing a thirty car pile up from the safety of his couch says "This is enough to give you a hard on." Top stuff.
Roy Scheider does an admirable job as the President and even gets chucked into the boot of a car, the poor old guy. In the third act after being rescued, he agrees to let Nick and a small team infiltrate Area 55 and take the place apart in the rescue of his wife. Angie Everhart is the eye-candy in the movie playing Lacey, one of the bad girls, and she does a fine job despite a few bad lines and awkward scenes. Robert Miano (Out for Blood, No Escape No Return, A Time to Die) has a small role as one of the bad guys which was cool, but not as cool as the small role given to Matthias Hues. He's not used much and dies early but somebody does refer to him as Fabio, which was fantastic. If there was a downside to this movie, it was not enough Matthias screen time.
I'm definitely on an adrenaline rush as I write this. That should be enough to convince you to go get this movie as soon as possible. Jump on Amazon, get on eBay or rummage through those sale bins. You need this movie in your life. Without a doubt the best PM Entertainment movie I have seen so far with massive re-playability. I have many PM flicks still to watch but I can't see how they could top this. This was very late in the career of Joseph Merhi and Richard Pepin as PM only had a few years left in it before they went their separate ways. Chronologically moving forward we have the likes of Gary Daniels' Recoil and Jeff Speakman's Land of the Free to enjoy. I don't see how they could improve upon Executive Target. In time I guess we will find that out. Right now, I think I'm having a mangasm over the possibility of watching Executive Target again.
A little soft but overall a strong full screen presentation with a massive, explosive soundtrack. Better than most PM Entertainment films up to this point but nothing spectacular. Runtime 100 minutes.
Region 2 DVD from eBay for a few bucks.