Sunday, 4 March 2012
SUSPECT DEVICE (1995)
Directed by: Rick Jacobson
Screenplay: Alex Simon
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Stacey Travis, Jonathan Fuller & John Beck
This Roger Corman cheapie certainly packs in a lot of fisticuffs, excessive gunplay and on-the-run action over its relatively brisk running time. The budget may be slim, the sets limited and the action often over-the-top but with its slight sci-fi vibe and good ole C. Thomas Howell giving an energetic performance, Suspect Device is a fun, late night action quickie. Howell seems to have a the perfect life: cushy job, a set of nice friends (who love to play poker with him) and a big boobed blonde wife he gets to bed at the beginning of the film. But he keeps having weird blackouts/dreams where everybody he knows and works with is slain in a bevy of gunfire. One of these dreams/premonitions soon comes true as after one particular blackout, Howell wakes up to find his whole office dead, CCTV footage showing he was the culprit and soon he is on the run with sexy Stacey Travis trying to figure out what is going, why nobody knows him anymore, who the gun-toting assailants are following him at every step and up to his neck in more gunfights than Chow Yun-Fat in a John Woo movie.
While the revelation of what is really going on is no great shakes and pretty predictable, Suspect Device makes up for this, and its distinct lack of budget, with a fast pace, lots of gun blazing action, some actual decent acting for this kind of flick and a groovy ending that makes you realize that, yeah, this film was a pretty fun ride. Howell certainly gives it his all despite the fact all he is asked to do is look confused, paranoid and shoot and fight lots of expendable extras. The paranoid slant is jettisoned far too quickly in favour of lots of shoot-outs: where nobody can hit Howell, despite being only a few feet in front of him, and he’s a crack-shot who guns down everybody in squibtastic fashion. The gunfights do get a little repetitive but there is plenty of fist fighting come the finale when Howell has to take on a couple of super soldier type dudes.
B-movie stalwarts Jonathan Fuller (Pit and the Pendulum) and John Beck (Project Viper) make for fun bad guys and the acting isn’t too shabby for this kind of low budget flick. Cheap it may be (with its fair share of continuity gaffs and “What the..” moments) but this is action packed fun from the Roger Corman stable. Plus, the neat little twist at the end makes me wish they had made a sequel!