Russia has a problem. Mob boss Konstantine Konali (Ron Perlman, slumming) has created a video game so addictive that the people playing it don’t even realize that it’s actually a sophisticated computer virus that allows Konali to take control of almost any security system. As a result, Moscow has been hit by a string of robberies. The Moscow police commandant, Nikolaivich Rakov (Christopher Lee, slumming even more than Perlman) knows that he doesn’t have the resources to stop Konali so, as so many have done before him, he decides to contact Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes) and asks for help.
In others words: Police Academy Goes To Russia!
Well, some of the Police Academy graduates get to go. After the box office failure of City Under Siege, there was a five year hiatus between that movie and the latest (and last) installment in the Police Academy film saga. During that time, the juvenile boys who made up the franchise’s target audience all grew up and became too cool to admit that they had ever seen a Police Academy film. By the time Mission to Moscow went into production, most of the stars of Police Academy had also either moved on or desperately wanted to create the impression that they had something better to do than go to Russia to take part in the final stand of an aging franchise.
As a result, Lassard only takes Tacklberry (David Graf), Sound Effects Machine (Michael Winslow), Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook), Harris (G.W. Bailey), and Cadet Connors (Charlie Schlatter) with him to the Russia. Cadet Connors is a computer expert and he is obviously meant to be the new Steve Guttenberg/Matt McCoy style wiseass. He ends up falling for a pretty Russian translator (Claire Forlani). Cadet Connors tries his best but he’s no Carey Mahoney.
Give Mission to Moscow some credit for predicting both the rise of the Russian Mafia and the danger of computer viruses. Otherwise, Mission to Moscow ends the Police Academy franchise in a desultory manner. The cast looks old and even the usually reliable Sound Effects Machine doesn’t bring much energy to his shtick. Police Academy: Mission to Moscow was one of the first American movies to be filmed in Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union and it even features an actor standing in for Boris Yeltsin. In the tradition of a family sitcom doing a special episode of Epcot Center, there’s plenty of footage of the cast standing in front of all of the landmarks but otherwise, Mission to Moscow doesn’t do much with its setting. It’s interesting as historical trivia but forgettable as a movie.
10 years after the series began, Mission to Moscow brought the Police Academy films to a close, not with a bang but with a very exhausted whimper. There was a syndicated tv series featuring the Sound Effects Machine that aired in 1997 but I never saw an episode and I was surprised to lean that it even existed. It’s on YouTube so, someday, I’ll try to watch it. Not today, though.