Directed by: John Bradshaw
Starring: Jeff Fahey, Kim Coates, Carrie-Anne Moss, Karyn Dwyer, Jonathan Potts and Gary Busey
"Money is the most explosive element."
When a team of terrorists take over a water filtration plant and start holding hostages from a tour group, only one man can stop the madness: police detective David Chase (Fahey, not the guy who created The Sopranos playing himself). He has to go up against not just the main hostage taker, the unbalanced Montessi (Coates), and his team of underlings with wacky code names such as Sparky (Dwyer) and Pogo (Potts), but the TRUE mastermind of it all, the sinister Turner (Busey). Luckily, Chase has a few tricks up his sleeve to deal with the baddies before they contaminate the water supply (he only has about four hours or so), and he has teamed up with Melissa (Moss), a plant worker, to save the day.
It’s Die Hard (1988) in a water filtration plant (I just filled in the blank from our Crackerjack review). Off the bat, we know this is going to be an odd one. Starting with, believe it or not, some close-ups of Gary Busey's teeth as he talks to no one in particular, with some pounding music behind it, very soon we see something we know isn’t good: nefarious-looking men in overcoats and sunglasses walking in slow motion. Those have to be the bad guys. Kim Coates puts in a noteworthy performance as Montessi. He must have known he was doing the role many people have done before, so he tried to change it up. He has all these little jokes, strange vocal inflections and tics to try to put a spin on the “hostage taker” part. He does wave his gun around a lot, but he at least tried to do it differently, which is a good thing.
Jeff Fahey has a cool jacket and cool hair, and generally just seems “too cool” for the supposedly urgent situation. We always like seeing him. Carrie-Anne Moss is on hand as the romantic interest/sidekick, and we don’t normally see her in DTV product such as this, so that was a nice change as well. Gary Busey is his normal, unhinged self, and from the bad guy team, Karen Dwyer as Sparky stands out from the crowd.
However, this came out in 1997, meaning the influence of Quentin Tarantino must have proved too hard to resist for the filmmakers. For no apparent reason, instead of action scenes or plot points, characters just start talking about The Jeffersons and Good Times. That now seems somewhat embarrassing, and unnecessary. We don’t want pop culture references, especially apropos of nothing. We’d rather hear Jeff Fahey try to woo women talking about his brie omelets. (Don’t forget, we’ve already seen teams of men walking in slow motion that have code names...but I’m sure Reservoir Dogs never played into the equation here).
For a goofier-than-usual, shot-in-Canada DTV product, Lethal Tender (gotta love that title) is actually pretty entertaining.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty