Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie review - "Death Warrant" (1990) **

The first screenplay credit from David Goyer, who became such a major figure in the 2000s. It's an entirely respectable story, a combination of the Jean Claude Van Damme, prison and serial killer genres - he plays a Canadian policeman who goes undercover in a prison to find the person who killed his partner and uncovers an organ donor racket.

It's full of familiar tropes - a pretend wife (Cynthia Gibb) he falls for, a conspiracy involving his boss, dodgy guards, nerdy computer hacker - but those tropes are familiar because they work and they do here. More worrying is that the film is a little on the dull side. There's not much action and it's not that great. The film keeps teasing things without delivering - a hot conjugal visit between Van Damme and Gibb (hinted at but not really exploited, at least not in the version I saw), a riot, a massive brawl. The serial killer was super human in most of his scenes except at the end (was he supposed to be a ghost? An alien?)

The film falls in between stools - there's too much intelligence and sensibility to be a gloriously crap Van Damme action movie, but it's not good enough to be an actual solidly entertaining flick. Robert Guillaume adds strong support and I've always liked Cynthia Gibb and wish more time had been devoted to her relationship with Van Damme.

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