Enemy Action (1999)- * *
Directed by: Brian Katkin
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Louis Mandylor, Carl Struycken, Lisa Thornhill, Michael Newman, Beata Pozniak, Ed O'Ross, Randolph Mantooth, and Richard Lynch
Because he is "the best", John Reed (Howell) is dispatched to the former commie country of Dagestan to stop some baddies who want to release advanced-technology missiles on the U.S.A. The small band of evildoers, led by the sinister Solonsky (Mantooth), but also including Price (Mandylor), Eyepatch (Struycken), Dimitri (Lynch), and Fatima (Pozniak) have met their match with John Reed. Backed up by Catherine Kelly (Thornhill) and Major Pedyed (O'Ross), Reed must stop the missiles, stop the commies, and save the day. But will he be able to stop the ENEMY ACTION?
Hey, remember Stealth Fighter (1999), Desert Thunder (1999), Black Thunder (1998), The Pandora Project (1998), or perhaps Interceptor (1992)? Well, here's another low-budget Roger Corman programmer to file along with all the others. Enemy Action has the benefit of a cast that is well above average, but the movie itself is the usual mishmash of plane slog, dogfight slog, sub slog and mix-and-match-footage-from-other-movies slog that we've all become acquainted with over the years, especially in the output from the late 90's/early 2000's when that sort of thing really seemed to proliferate.
It's not a total loss, however, because Howell and Mantooth are both really good in the film and seem to be giving it their all. Or something close to their all. It helps the proceedings a lot to see that. Of course, there's the time-honored Wacky Taxi Driver. In this case, he proclaims how much he loves the West and his fondest goal is to "marry a Spice Girl". The baseball-loving John Reed really seems to appreciate this. Larry Hankin plays a guy whose name is - if you listen to what other characters seem to be calling him - "Yuri Avocado". Makes sense.
The special effects are indeed quite special, as we've got miniatures that look like they were taken out of a box of Battleship, "explosions" that look like if you crash your plane in a CD-ROM flight simulator from 1994, and an exploding helicopter that's quite literally onscreen for one second. We only point out these things because they help make the movie more fun and more watchable, not out of any sort of negativity.
In the realm of constructive criticism, we would say that the plot was very simplistic and should have had more going on, perhaps more twists and turns. The solid B-Movie cast was nice to see, but what they had to work with wasn't that meaty.
The VHS tape, released by Corman's New Concorde label, states on the tape itself that the film runs 77 minutes. The back of the box states that it's 84 minutes. The film itself is 82 minutes before the credits. All split hairs aside, the movie is still pretty short, but it feels longer because we've all been down this road many times in our viewing past.
In the end, Enemy Action isn't anything you haven't seen before. For a suggestion that's similar but better, try The Pandora Project.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty