Future Force (1989)

Welcome to the end of one review series, and the continuation of another. Picked pretty much at random was “movies whose titles begin with the word Future”, and as I was scanning IMDB to find the ones I wanted to tell you about, I noticed that our old friend David A Prior – see his reviews HERE – made a couple of “Future” movies, and in our on-hiatus series of his stuff, we’re nearly at the right time (there’s two other movies from 1989 of his we’ve not covered yet, but it’s not always easy to track this stuff down). I like a bit of dovetailing!

Okay, that’s quite enough of that. You don’t care about my thought processes, you care about knowing which terrible movies you’ve never heard of are worth watching, if you’re – for some reason – stranded in a VHS shop with a gun to your head, told you have to pick a good one or else you’re dead. I have no other reason why anyone would want to read this site.

Along with David A Prior, we get David Carradine! Even though David Carradine died in 2009, movies he worked on are still being released (most recently, “The American Connection” in 2017). In this movie, he just looks like he wishes he was dead, and plays Tucker, a cop.

Well, he’s sort of a cop. In this heady far off future, which coincidentally looks exactly the same as the ugly parts of LA looked in the late 80s, law enforcement has been privatised. C.O.P.S., which the beginning of the movie says stands for “Civilian Operated Police Incorporated”, but a sign hanging above their dingy office claims the last word is “Systems”, is a force of…about 8 people? All the guys have mullets, all the women have big ol’ perms, and everyone has a denim vest with a “C.O.P.S.” badge on.

Head of the force is Captain Adams (William Zipp, a Prior regular and a surprisingly good actor, although he’s not trying very hard here), who, accompanied by goon Becker (Robert Tessier, who was a goon in pretty much every TV show of the 70s and 80s) wants to take over the streets. Quelle surprise! Who’d have thunk a privatised police force would be susceptible to corruption? Anyway, a TV reporter has footage of them not upholding the law, so Adams places a fake charge of treason on her file and all the cops try and hunt her down. No-one says “seems a bit unlikely that this TV reporter would be guilty of treason, seems more likely the cops are guilty and trying to kill her”, but Tucker figures it out quite quickly and it’s the two of them against the world; even more so when C.O.P.S claims Tucker’s guilty of murder too.

There’s a stupendous amount of padding in “Future Force”. Every car journey is shown in excruciating detail, almost – almost – to the point where you wonder if it’s a joke. Surely just watching this pre-release must have clued him in to how boring those segments are? It’s 84 minutes long and could have comfortably trimmed 15 off that (although I guess there’s a low limit to what can be sold as a movie for TV stations wanting a two-hour block with adverts).

We’ve not discussed something very important in this movie from 1989, set in the impossibly distant 1991. This is no surprise to those of you who’ve bothered to look at the front cover art above.

DAVID CARRADINE HAS A POWER-GLOVE AND BARELY EVER USES IT

Imagine you’re a cop in the lawless lands of the future. You have a weapon so powerful it pretty much guarantees you’ll come out on top in any confrontation, so what do you do?

a. Use it all the time to ensure your victory and survival?

or

b. Leave it in the back of your car and use your crappy old six-shooter all the time?

I presume they mentioned how he came to own such an amazing piece of technology in one of the lines of dialogue I wasn’t listening to (he does have a tech genius assistant, I suppose) but that really ought to have been more central to things. It’s the only remotely futuristic thing in the entire movie! It’s even remote controlled and beats up the last two bad guys for him while he lays down! Why are you so against using it! Okay, I know the actual reason is it was too expensive to do the effects for, for a low-budget organisation like AIP, but even so.

It’s a weird film, this. It’s relentlessly ugly, filming in the parts of LA that most movies don’t use, with good reason. Just endless concrete vistas with squat, broken down industrial buildings – it may well be what the future looks like, but I hope not. Zipp and Tessier relish their opportunity to be OTT bad guys; but Carradine is so comatose that it’s a real surprise he lived for 20 more years after this, and (Tarantino appearances notwithstanding) never really appeared in anything good ever again. He reminds me of Eric Roberts, who also largely stopped appearing in good things, with the difference being Roberts appears to enjoy his life and relishes appearing in dozens of movies a year. Do you think Carradine enjoyed any of the…15 movies he’s credited for in 1989?

Of interest to:

  • Carradine completists (I’m sure there are some)
  • Prior completists (welcome, friends)
  • “Person with a super-powered glove” movie completists (this, Laserblast, and…?)

Rating: thumbs down

EDIT: The chaps at Rifftrax have covered this, so head on over to rifftrax.com for some comedy good times.

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