4/26/09

Tomb of Forgotten Film: Future Force (1989)

I don’t recall things being that bad in 1989. Sure George H.W. Bush took office. Sure Muslims were out to kill Salman Rushdie. And, yeah, maybe the Exxon Valdez might have spilled oil all over the place and Pete Rose was banned from baseball, but there was good stuff too. That was the year of Burton’s Batman and the Sega Genesis. The same year that Ted Bundy got the chair, and the Simpsons debuted in their own show. So what in the world made the folks behind this film think that by the far-flung year of 1991 the world would get so violent and crazy. And we’d have laser gun gloves. And a private police force. And David Carradine. Well, I guess the last part did come true, but not much else about….
Future Force (1989) starring David Carradine, Robert Tessier, Anna Rapagna, and Partick Culliton. Directed by David A. Prior.

John Tucker (Carradine), an officer for C.O.P.S. (the “Civilian Operated Police State”), has a reputation for bringing in his criminals dead rather than alive, but it’s not as if he doesn’t warn them. Each time he faces off with a baddie he intones the new Miranda warning, "You've committed a crime. You're presumed guilty until proven innocent. You have the right to die. You choose to relinquish that right you'll be placed under arrest and put in prison.". Sometimes the crooks listen, but more often than not, Tucker doesn’t care either way. Packing a six-shooter and a laser blasting glove, he’s one of the best.

When he goes to make an arrest of the traitorous TV reporter Marian Sims (Rapangna), he soon finds himself on the other side of the law when he finds out that Marian is in possession of a videotape that proves corruption in the ranks of the C.O.P.S. Mob boss Grimes (Culliton) will stop at nothing to get it, but he’ll soon find out that he can’t escape the long arm….or glove of the law.

The Bugg Speaks

You know what’s futuristic? A warehouse district somewhere in L.A., people packing revolvers, and a big badass weapon that looks more like Nintendo’s doomed power glove. Oh, wait, that’s the wrong list. That’s my list of things that are NOT futuristic. My mistake and the mistake of Future Force. I have stated many times at the Lair that I love a film set in a dystopian future. So when I picked this flick up on VHS, I thought it looked great. I love David Carradine for all his hammy acting. I thought the idea of him with a robotic arm was full of goofy goodness. I thought the idea of a privatized police force could make for some interesting, ham-fisted, b-movie social commentary. I was wrong on all fronts.

Let’s just take these things one at a time. First off, a dystopian future. I love a film that intones that terrible things will come to pass in the 15 or 20 years it would take us to get to a year like 2002, but really, 2 years! Perhaps David Prior, who is known for his mostly terrible low budget films such as the 1988 Joe Spinelli vehicle Operation Warzone, thought that by reigning in the year he could get by with things not looking so futuristic. It might have worked too, that is if he hadn’t named his film FUTURE Force. C.O.P.S would have been a much better moniker, but at the time, there was a short-lived children’s animated series by the same name, and I’m sure no one wanted those two things to be confused.

Speaking of confused, David Carradine looked like he wondered exactly how he had reached this new low, and this is the man who had already appeared in gems like 1984’s The Warrior and the Sorceress and Safari 3000 (1982). The once svelte actor looked pretty paunchy here, and it wasn’t just his stomach that was bloated. His acting ranges from so flat you wonder if he was awake to so over the top you wonder if he was just powering through the scene so he could take a hit off the craft services table. I don’t know if I can blame him though. If I was saddled with a prop like the laser glove and it’s incredibly bad looking blue lasers, I don’t think I could muster up giving a crap either. Yet there’s something really shocking about his paycheck…er, I mean performance. He returned to the character the year after in the sequel Future Zone, which I read was the better of the two. It wouldn't take much for this to be true. 

So maybe they could save this flick with a dab of that social commentary I was looking for. Give us some overreaching moral lesson, and struggle get your point across or spell it out implicitly in case we‘re too dumb to notice(either way being in great b-movie tradition). So does Future Force pump up the subtext? Not a chance. This movie is at its core one of the most basic stories ever. Bad guys want to kill girl and hero won’t let them. That’s it. I think there was a large opportunity missed here, but the script by Prior and Thomas Baldwin barely achieves passable dialog so I was expecting too much.

I’m not going to waste all our time talking about the other actors in the film, all bad, the direction, clunky at best, and the effects, well; let’s just say they took special to new heights. In the end this film disappointed on all levels. I felt sure that I would encounter a film that could take on the “so bad it’s good" moniker, but instead I wish I had left Future Force in the past where it truly, truly belongs.

Bugg Rating

3 comments:

  1. Part of me thinks I saw this years ago. I've seen so much crap over the years. Much of it starred David Carradine.

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  2. Oh, David Carradine. Always takin' whatever you can get. You clearly display that integrity is only a burden in life, not a virtue.

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  3. I'm with Keith--I'm pretty sure I've seen this, but my mind is probably trying to block it out.

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