Dir: Steven Lisberger
Star: Bill Paxton, Bob Peck, Eleanor David, Mark Hamill

There's a lot to fault in this film, and I understand entirely why it bombed, badly; the post-apocalyptic world it portrays is poorly thought-out and barely sketched, it doesn't have a plot so much as a series of semi-random incidents, the flying sequences are overlong and too frequent, and one could also accuse both Paxton and Hamill of heinous overacting. Yet it resolutely refuses to succumb, surviving on a marvellous performance from Bob Peck [the hero in Edge of Darkness, perhaps the finest BBC production ever], spectacular photography and a resolute refusal to bow to convention.

Tasker (a near-unrecognisable Hamill) is a lawman of questionable methods, transporting his charge Byron (Peck) back to face murder charges. When anti-hero Matt (Paxton) hears "reward", he swipes Byron, aiming to take the bounty for himself. But on the journey, Matt discovers his prisoner isn't quite the cold-blooded murderer he initially thought, before Tasker finally catches up with them in a museum where the intellectual cream have holed up, afraid of what the world has become. Add cameos by F. Murray Abraham, Ben Kingsley and Robbie Coltrane and, even if the execution is flawed (occasionally horribly), this is still something more thoughtful than the usual Mad Max ripoff.

October 2004

Slip sliding away
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