Long-term readers may remember our series of Rutger Hauer reviews, as his run of movies from the mid 80s to the early 90s features some video store classics like “Split Second”, “Salute of the Jugger”, “The Hitcher”, “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” and “Blade Runner”, to name but a few.
One of our favourites was “Wedlock”, where he and Mimi Rodgers were inmates in an unusual future-prison. No walls, just an explosive collar round the neck. Each inmate was paired with another, and if you got too far from that person the collar would go boom, but no-one knew who, the idea being that people would keep each other in check, foil any escape plans, and so on. A simple story, well told, and lots of fun.
Although this is a sequel to “Wedlock”, with the same writer even, it’s more a use of the same beats to tell a different story, which takes the collar / prison thing but pretty much nothing else. There’s a circle round the outside of the non-prison, same as before, but that’s just the boundary that no-one can cross, rather than being “you’re always within range of everyone else, inside this line”. The prison, a disused amusement park, is more reminiscent of “Escape From New York”, as there are no guards and the prisoners can do what they like.
Our protagonist is Tony (Esai Morales), who’s either a thief or a high-end corporate security analyst, depending on who’s paying him. He breaks into the offices of the extremely evil Jack Claremont (the excellent Steven McHattie), and almost gets away with some important documents! But sadly, one of the completely ordinary pieces of consumer tech he uses to break in was on like 10% charge, shuts down at a critical moment and he’s caught. Dear me! That’s the best idea you could come up with?
Turns out, Claremont refused to pay Tony $25,000 for a previous job, so he’d decided to rob some information from him and sell it on. Claremont, sensing an opportunity, murders one of his own guards, pins it on Tony and has him sent to jail. What he needs to do when he’s there is find Allie (Nia Peeples), who apparently embezzled $85,000,000 and hid it so well that no-one can find it; escape with her; get her to lead him to the cash; and tell Claremont where it is. He’ll let Tony live, and blah blah blah. You know the score.
The section of the movie set in the actual prison is fairly short, as once you’ve established the rules of the prison and demonstrated it by blowing a random extra’s head off, there’s not a lot else to hold the viewer’s interest. Tony helps Allie with some very insistent male prisoners, and she agrees to escape with him – it’s at this point that he reprograms the collars so his and hers are linked, Wedlock-style, making this the sole link to Rutger Hauer’s original classic.
The abiding memory of this section of the movie is a series of scenes where Tony and Allie are close to separating and blowing themselves up – on a train, on two separate moving trucks, skydiving – and while it’s not terribly original, it’s kind of fun. Like a highlight reel for a low-impact stunt performer, therefore perfect for a TV movie. Claremont’s people are chasing them, and you’re waiting for the moment when Allie discovers Tony’s interest in her isn’t just him being nice, and that’s all fine.
I’d suggest the main issue is that it’s not remotely futuristic enough. It’s just our normal modern society with weird prisons and a court where the judge appears via TV but everything else is exactly the same. I know, budgets and TV movies and all that, but we sci-fi fans like a little more sci in our fi.
But, it’s solidly entertaining, and that is far from a given, when you look at the movies we normally cover. Nia Peeples and Esai Morales have a really strong chemistry, and the villains are good too. So, if you saw Wedlock and really enjoyed it, but want a little more of people with bombs round their necks, then you could do a heck of a lot worse.
Rating: thumbs in the middle