This is perhaps the first movie we’ve done here at the ISCFC where it’s such an “unquel” that I didn’t even realise it was the sequel to something else. 1992’s “Live Wire” is a Pierce Brosnan-starring thriller about people coated with some sort of liquid explosive being sent to assassinate politicians (I think, I’ve never seen it as it sounds terrible), and “Human Timebomb” is about brainwashed super-soldiers. No cast or crew are shared, which is just the way we like our unquels.
We last saw Bryan Genesse in all-time cast iron classic “Screwballs 2: Loose Screws” and he thankfully keeps the same cheeky grin from that movie, here playing wisecracking FBI agent Parker. In a pretty well-shot and fun opening scene, he’s the lead man at a huge arrest at a drug deal taking place in a real disused drive-in cinema, with a group of Cubans buying what looks like a tiny piece of gold in a small glass case with a suitcase full of cocaine. Why are they so interested in this tiny thing?
Unfortunately, the plot sort of falls apart right here. Arriving on the scene after the arrests have been made is CIA agent Gina Young (J Cynthia Brooks), who informs Parker that the lead Cuban drug guy is the nephew of a Cuban general, and therefore has diplomatic immunity. Fun fact: the US and Cuba had no diplomatic relations in 1995 and there’s absolutely no chance that they’d have honoured diplomatic immunity for a drug-smuggling murderer. But let’s not worry about that! Gina takes the nephew back to Cuba on a pretty small, non-official-looking plane and Parker decides pretty much on the spur of the moment to tag along, which brings us to the subject of coincidences.
Coincidences happen in movies because it’s difficult to figure out ways to bring characters together and have them either come into conflict or fight on the same side. I understand that. But if they’re too big, too tenuous, or there’s too many of them then it becomes too stupid and takes you way out of the movie. Wonder if you can guess where I’m going with this particular review? So, it turns out that Parker was in the military, and his best buddy was left behind in some shady operation in Cuba, missing presumed dead. This best buddy is also the brother of Gina, and she’s kind of being blackmailed by a rogue Cuban general to bring across that tiny piece of gold which is actually a chip that turns people into mindless killing machines, as her brother is still alive! And they also need Parker to become the latest chip-controlled automaton and kill a bunch of people at the upcoming US / Cuba trade negotiation, allowing the rogue General to take over!
I haven’t even mentioned Joe Lara yet, the sole reason anyone would possibly want to watch this movie. He’s Price, a former US soldier who went to work for the rogue General, and is in charge of his team of killers – leading to a classic “here’s my men training” montage (which “Wayne’s World” mocked so well a few years previously). To say he’s a bit evil is to say water is a bit wet, and he’s the best thing about every scene he’s in. I was sort of fooled by the publicity for this movie, expecting it to be a little futuristic, but it’s not; although it’s a great Lara performance, so it goes into his season of movie reviews.
Parker is captured, gets implanted and becomes a killer for Price, although all it takes is banging his head on a steel pipe for his chip to malfunction and his previous personality to be restored. Hurrah! The movie spends a substantial amount of time in Cuba before rushing to Miami for the trade negotiations and denouement, and it’s amazing. Imagine in 2015 a trade deal between the Secretaries of State for two countries – think about how much security there’d be, and its location. Back in 1995, all they got was a normal hotel full of holidaymakers and a couple of security guys circling the hotel on a monorail (best guess – this hilarious image was crowbarred in because the hotel that let them film in return for free publicity demanded they show off their sweet new purchase).
You take what you can get from straight-to-video action/thriller movies, and this one was pretty rough in places. The plot is ludicrous, the acting is ropey, it borrows the US-to-Cuba-to-the-US timeline from one of the worst movies ever (“Red Zone Cuba”), and even if you accept its premise, it still makes no sense. Aside from all the stupid inconsistencies and plot holes and gibberish all movies like this have to an extent, the main issue is that the US is fighting to protect Fidel Castro’s regime against a coup from someone who sounds like he’d be much more amenable to Washington. Even the most undiscerning video store renter in the 1990s must have scratched their heads at the ultimate meaning of this movie.
Add in some of the worst music ever, and one of the more unusual endings in movie history:
“You’re some piece of work, Parker”
And…well, you’ve got yourself a movie. If you’re in an extremely forgiving mood or are more of a Joe Lara completist than I am, give it a go!
Rating: thumbs in the middle