Friday, May 20, 2011

Coming Out Alive

(Don McBrearty, 1980)
In between "Hot Wheels" and "American Nightmare" - both better than this - McBrearty generated this skimpy actioner about a psycho dad kidnapping his wheelchair-bound son for nefarious ends. What's here is actually mostly great: Helen Shaver does well as the mother, upstaged only by Scott Hylands as Jocko the Bounty Hunter; he's complex, compelling and multi-dimensional. The direction is assured and kinetic, and the movie surges forward in an engaging way. And then, suddenly, it ends. And you're like, that's IT? After priming us for a scenario involving international corruption, world leaders and an exploding wheelchair, all we get is two guys punching each other out on a goddam boat? One of whom, the dad, has not been permitted an iota of character development in his fleeting seconds of screen time? We never learn what the hell he's all about, a really major letdown given that the secondhand pieces the other characters feed us promises something really juicy. He's just MICHAEL IRONSIDE, they seem to tell themselves, so of course he's one-dimensionally psychotic, what more do you need! This gross omission manages to torpedo the substantial good will generated by the fine second act. Why not save some of the cleverness to find a way out of the inevitable budgetary bind? Maybe they ran out of time as well as money. Whatever happened, it's a real waste.

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