Do you remember the first “Project Shadowchaser” film? Well, the producers of this are sure hoping you don’t, because they’ve decided to sort-of remake it, only in a slightly different location.
My theory – the company that made the first film wasn’t interested in doing a sequel, or in doing much of anything with part 1 (still yet to be released on DVD), so the actual filmmakers decided to make their own “sequel”, (see the name on the VHS cover above) but with a number of glaring similarities to the first – Zagarino has a female sidekick with short blonde hair; there’s a helicopter rescue at the end which is almost spoiled by a thought-to-be-dead villain; and excessive use of air-ducts. They decided not to make ol’ Frank an android in this one, though, and have a slightly cleverer plot. Then, about three-quarters of the way through filming, they managed to get the rights to the “Project Shadowchaser” name, which led to some last-minute rewrites. Zagarino’s character name is never mentioned, and he displays no signs of anything you could call android-y behaviour until 59 minutes in. His voice is completely different, and he’s far more…animated in this one than he was in part 1. An example, you ask? Well, this is what he wears when he mows down a Christmas party in full swing:
I kind-of want that picture in HD and to turn it into a poster, but I think it’s unlikely. Anyway, Android (how he’s listed on the credits) and his chums infiltrate a nuclear research place, take over the weapons and threaten to blow up Washington unless…here’s where I’m a bit vague on the details. I think it’s all a cover for the theft of something from the secret lab’s storage vault, which they’re pretending is all about getting a few of their friends out of prison, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. I guarantee not one of you will read this review and be disappointed at the lack of fine plot details. About my rubbish writing style, maybe.
Luckily for humanity, the lab has Frank (Bryan Genesse), a kickass martial artist / former baseball pro who’s working as a maintenance man; along with his beautiful but hard-ass boss and her unhappy teenage son, they’re all that stands between Android and…doing whatever he needs to do (I’m sure he had a good reason). Also luckily, and in keeping with the first, everyone in this film is a rotten shot. Bullets are sprayed liberally in any and every direction and most of the time hit no-one at all, and don’t even appear to be aimed at anyone, really. Also, my notes have the line “everyone in this film is scum”, indicating a fair few people that it’s difficult to root for. And with there being a kid in it, you know he’s going to survive, which makes any scenes of peril featuring him boring – as, in fact, are 99.9% of all scenes featuring kids in peril in films.
I feel a bit silly writing a new review for something so similar to its predecessor, but there are some fun moments. Frank is fighting one of Android’s minions, and he gets set on fire BUT CONTINUES TO FIGHT, surely one of the most badass things captured on film. Android, to prove he’s serious about whatever it is he’s up to, takes control of some surface-to-air missiles and blows up a passenger aircraft which is flying overhead, killing hundreds (which feels like footage from another film, as it’s a lot of money to burn on a set which is on screen for maybe a minute).
Ultimately, of course, it’s designed to be a fast-paced sci-fi action film. Despite the sci-fi element being so small as to be effectively invisible (it’s only the lip service paid to Android’s non-human nature that differentiates this from a thousand Die Hard clones), it’s plenty of fun. Zagarino and Genesse clearly worked well together, as they did a few other films with each other, and their fights are probably the best thing about this. If you weren’t immediately put off by the name, you’ll probably want to stick around and watch it all.
Rating: thumbs up