A Movie A Day #199: Timebomb (1991, directed by Avi Nesher)

Recall Total Recall?

If you do, Timebomb will seem very familiar.

Michael Biehn is a mild-mannered watchmaker who surprises himself when he fearlessly rushes into a burning building and saves a mother and her baby.  After he shows up on the evening news and is hailed as being a hero, he is attacked by an assassin (martial arts legend Billy Blanks) and discovers that he instinctively know how to defend himself.  When he starts having disturbing nightmares and strange flashbacks, he sees a psychiatrist (Patsy Kensit).  They discover that Biehn’s problems go back to when he was a part of a military brainwashing experiment.  The man behind the experiment (Richard Jordan) now wants Biehn dead.  Pursued by another brainwashed assassin (Tracy Scoggins), Biehn and Kensit go on the run.

Like many action movies from the early 90s, Timebomb has an extremely cool premise but lacks the budget necessary to make the most of it.  After a good start and some surreal moments (including a scene where Biehn and Kensit visit the lab where Biehn was “created”), Timebomb ends up just being another shoot ’em up.

Luckily, Timebomb has a really good cast.  Richard Jordan is an effective villain and old pro Robert Culp has a small role as one of Jordan’s collaborators.  The always underrated Michael Biehn is a great hero, precisely because he’s not some huge, indestructible guy.  He’s not Stallone or Schwarzenegger or even Jean-Claude Van Damme.  (Timebomb was originally envisioned as a Van Damme vehicle.)  In Timebomb, Michael Biehn is the everyman action hero.  Plus, any movie that features Tracy Scoggins as a gun-toting assassin is going to be worth watching.

Fast & Furious Hitchcock: THE 39 STEPS (Gaumont-British 1935)

cracked rear viewer

The chase is on – and on – as Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll are pursued by cops and spies while pursuing a deadly secret in Alfred Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS. The “double chase”, first used by Hitch in his silent THE LODGER (1927), playfully keeps the film’s motor running in high gear, and introduces us to two of his soon-to-be famous tropes, the “McGuffin” and the ice blonde. It’s certainly an important film for Hitchcock, as it caught the eye of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, who would bring Hitch to America’s shores five years later.

Donat, later an Oscar winner for 1939’s GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, plays Richard Hannay, trapped in circumstances beyond his control. The film begins in one of Hitchcock’s favorite places, a crowded public landmark, in this case a music hall (the marquee reminiscent of the shot of Anna Ondry walking past “A New Comedy” in BLACKMAIL ), as Hannay watches…

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Music Video of the Day: Naughty Naughty by Danger Danger (1989, dir. ???)

What was it Lisa said the other day about why the two of us pick out particular videos?

Now, there’s a variety different reasons why Val or I might pick a video for music video of the day. Sometimes, the choice is made as a way to honor an artist who has recently passed away. Sometimes, it’s done to commemorate a historical event. And sometimes, especially in my case, it’s just because the song’s chorus has gotten stuck in my head.

And sometimes a video gets picked solely for the purpose of telling a funny story one of us happens to come across. This one comes courtesy of the good old book, I Want My MTV. It’s from Steve Backer. Backer was a promotion executive for Epic Records.

We signed a band called Danger Danger. Just the worst of the fucking hair bands. They were dreadful. But our label president, Dave Glew, was obsessed with a song and a video of theirs, “Bang Bang.” I could get five videos onto MTV and it didn’t matter to him, because Danger Danger wasn’t in rotation. So he came up with this awful idea: The entire staff of Epic would put on hard hats–because hard hats symbolized danger, get it?–and walk to the MTV offices. I’m talking about the entire label. When the receptionist announced that Steve Backer had arrived for his 11 A.M. meeting, I’ve never been more mortified in my life. I still cringe when I think about it.

So naturally since his story mentions the video for the song Bang Bang, I’m spotlighting the video for their song Naughty Naughty. There’s a very good reason for that. Bang Bang is kind of catchy. It’s also a simple stage performance video. This one on the other hand is…how can I put it…um…what was that Jedadiah said the other day about that movie where a bird tries to Poe Sharon Stone?

Dumb. Just dumb.

Truer words were never spoken–or written in this case.

I do have a couple of things to add:

  1. Why does this video start off with a Mr. Roboto voice followed by synthesizers from Trancers, and then caps it all off with humpback whale songs from Star Trek IV?
  2. As dumb as this video is, you could get some enjoyment out of it by playing it over scenes from Rear Window.
  3. This last one is the most important because I know it is the burning question on everyone’s mind right now. Is there a Danger Danger music video that features an ape on a motorcycle? Yes, there is. It’s just awful.