Friday, 18 September 2009
EXECUTIVE TARGET (1997)
Directed by: Joseph Merhi
Written by: Jacobson Hart & Dayton Callie
Starring: Michael Madsen, Keith David, Angie Everheart & Roy Scheider
Executive Target is another car chase spectacular from low budget uber producers, PM Entertainment. While not as accomplished as some of their other films (Rage, The Sweeper), Executive Target still features some excellent chases and stuntwork but is marred by an absurd plotline and ropy acting.
Roy Scheider is the President and chief bad guy Lamar (David) wants to kidnap him and auction him off to the highest bidder. He believes the best way to do this is to kidnap imprisoned Hollywood stunt driver Nick (Madsen) and use him to drive the getaway car holding the President (!?). Lamar’s goons, Lacey (Everheart) and Ripple (?) (Gareth Williams) bust Nick out of a prison bus he is being escorted in; kidnap his wife for leverage; force Nick to rob a bank; and swear an awful, awful lot. Nick decides to take matters into his own hands as he tries to clear his name; save his wife; rescue the Prez; and crash an excessive amount of cars.
Executive Target’s plot (ha!) is an just an excuse to have three big car chases (one at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end) and they are the film’s saving grace. Well executed and thrillingly staged for a low budget feature, the filmmakers manage to cram in everything from Ferraris, to buses, to big-rigs, to police cruisers, to helicopters, creating an onslaught of vehicular mayhem and destruction. PM Entertainment are renowned for spectacular, stunt-packed car chases in their films and director Joseph Merhi pulls out all the stops here (though uses a few too many close-ups this time, occasionally making it difficult to see what’s going on).
It is the story that really suffers here. Why the bad guys would need a Hollywood stunt driver is anybody’s guess. Surely they would know a good enough getaway driver within the criminal underworld? Madsen looks cool driving the fast cars, but seems to be phoning in his performance. The bad guys are all cookie cutter stereotypes, seemingly trying to out swear one another: ‘fuck you, fuck off, fuck this, fuck that, fuck him, fuck her, fuck everything.’ It does get tiresome. Everheart is there to mainly look pretty (which she does very well) and David over-acts somewhat, but makes his character kinda fun, while Scheider just looks bemused by everything.
What stops the film from becoming an ultimate guilty pleasure are some absolutely bonkers leaps in logic (even for an action flick). Super villain Lamar is somehow able to watch all the car chases on a huge video screen back in his super villain lair. This is explained by using the city's CCTV cameras but since when do they show pixel perfect pictures that cover every angle of the action and even what’s going on down an alley way where there isn’t even a camera? Also the sudden revelation that the hero’s rotund friend Bella (Callie) was once a marine and should now accompany Nick on his rescue mission of his wife is just really daft. The fact that this consists of him wearing a bin bag over his head (don’t ask) and then getting shot proves just how daft this idea was.
However, the point of a guilty pleasure film is it’s so bad it’s actually kind of good. We all have one and Executive Target works best as this kind of film. Daft, but exciting, it will satisfy lovers of car chase flicks.