Thursday, 3 July 2008

Sweepers



SWEEPERS (1998)

Directed by: Darby Black
Screenplay by: Darby Balck and Kevin Bernhardt
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Claire Stansfield and Bruce Payne

Dolph Lundgren stars as Christian Erickson, an explosives expert on assignment in Angola to rid the area of land mines. When a routine de-mining unearths a new type of land mine (an A-6 Butterfly), Christian’s son is killed by one when a group of rebels attack the area. Five years later, Christian is a shadow of himself, constantly drunk and taking part in bare knuckle fights. The Butterfly land mine is still at large and is being used for nefarious gains by a bunch of unfriendly types. A crack team is sent in to rid the lands of the Butterfly, headed by bomb tech, Michelle Flynn (Stansfield). But no sooner have they arrived and her team are obliterated by the deadly landmine (so much for being a crack team). With few options left and still wanting to stop the bad guys from using the landmine, Flynn enlists the help of Christian. It’s then down to business as usual as explosions and gunfire abound



Sweepers is, for the most part, an entertaining action flick. It begins and concludes with some serious facts about the problems of landmines and the reluctance of the US to do anything about them. It’s a noble effort by the filmmakers to address an ongoing problem (Princess Di even gets a name check for her involvement in de-mining), but those expecting a serious dissection of the problems of landmines will be sorely disappointed. Being a Nu Image film, this is first and foremost an action film. Any attempts at making a political statement are thrown out the window in favour of action silliness. Thus, Lundgren’s character becomes the typical gruff, tough, hard drinking, cigar smoking, and guilt-ridden hero. Shame really, as it would have been more interesting to keep his character as the realistic bomb expert from the opening scenes. The rest of the acting is sub-par (where the hell did Bruce Payne get his American accent from??), though Stansfield gives a decent performance. The proceedings disintegrate into the standard clich├ęs come the final reel with the bird needing rescuing, the hero’s best friend turning out to be the bad guy (Bruce Payne is always the bad guy, even if he starts off good) and the annoying kid moppet getting in the way. As said, business as usual.

That’s not to say it’s a complete waste of time. The action is thick and fast and despite lacking in focus, is adequately entertaining. The explosions are impressively staged and there are some cool shootouts. Boasting a fairly decent budget, the African locations are nicely captured by Yossi Wein (U.S. Seals) and director, Darby Black (Serial Bomber), keeps everything together (just) to make Sweepers an entertaining, if daft, Dolph Lundgren action vehicle.

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