Lionsgate // 2003 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 10th, 2004
The coolest team in South Beach is about to turn up the heat.
Hey, do you like generic-titled, low-budget action movies, starring some recognizable faces that you can't quite place who run around opening fire with Infinity brand ammo clips (slogan: "You won't run out of bullets until everyone else is dead or it suits the plot!") while random pyrotechnics blast this way and that? Have I got a movie for you!
Strike Force opens with a bang. Actually, make that a thousand BANGS! and POWS! and KABLOOIES! We meet the titular "Force," plowing full bore with a dynamite-laden sedan into what appears to be a Motel 6 to retrieve a kidnapped girl. Cutting down wave after wave of henchmen, the team, lead by Simon (William Forsythe, Firestorm) eventually secures the target, but not before laying down a butt-load of carnage and fireballs.
There is little rest for vigilantes apparently, as Simon and crew are soon sucked into another kidnapping job, this time in Miami. The team goes on the offensive, trying to track down a missing young girl. Simon's search leads him to a strip club, where all the dancers sport astonishingly fake breasts.
One of the dancers, however, has a secret of her own. Sandi (Erika Eleniak, Baywatch) is also looking for the missing girl -- who happens to be her sister -- and goes undercover at the strip club to sniff out her whereabouts. The club is connected to the enigmatic, yet slimy, Marcos (a sufficiently Eurotrash Andrew Divoff) who, among other things, appears to head the local crime syndicate and lounges around his pool in a Speedo. Amazingly, no one catches on to Sandi's agenda, especially considering she's the only stripper that refuses to disrobe.
Marcos, Sandi, and Simon square off in a triangle of deceit and betrayal, and as the truth of a heinous kidnapping ring is revealed, all three spiral toward each other for a climactic gun battle, where more hapless henchmen will meet their lamentable fate.
Aside from telling you -- falsely -- that there are fifty-dollar bills and Polaroids of Jimmy Hoffa and Bigfoot eating a picnic lunch together included in the disc case, I don't think there's much I can say to convince you to check this moronic movie out.
The only elements that stand out, and possibly separate it from the pack of direct-to-video garbage, are the ludicrous violence, the bizarre lack of nudity, and a surreal cameo by Burt Reynolds (!), all of which I'll expound upon later.
Suffice it to say, Strike Force is every bit as stupid and forgettable as its insipid title suggests. (The film used to be called The Librarians, a decidedly worse moniker, after Simon's self-labeled vigilante squad; not exactly a name to inspire fear -- or even mild angst -- in the criminal element.)
I have to admit -- I am consistently amazed, when the credits roll, by the number of people required to put forth tripe like this movie. Strike Force isn't bad because it was hampered by this and that and the other thing. No, it was just born bad. It's a bad seed. It's malicious, aggressively bad, like a tapeworm or a fiery STD.
>From the ground up, the flick is insipid. The acting is horrendous. William Forsythe, a typecast antagonist from a multitude of other movies, has always struck me as kind of creepy. I hesitate to write this, as I expect him to show up in my driveway with a crowbar and my wife bound with duct tape. He's that kind of creepy. Maybe it's the hair, a sentient life-form of its own in this movie. Or perhaps it's the permanent scowl and the low-octave grating that is his voice. But I'll give him some props -- he does come across as a bad enough bad-ass. Just not a bad-ass you can get behind, you know?
Erika Eleniak lends her talents as the big-chested blonde action female character. The chest and the blonde thing she's got down, but as an action heroine, she's as believable as Stephen Hawking. Supposedly a kick-boxer (and then later a gunfighter), Eleniak does not impress.
And then there's her apparent coyness about her breasts. Look, I'm not trying to objectify her or anything, but this former Baywatch babe must have a strict non-nudity policy; her nippular avoidance was jarring. First, she's a stripper who almost finishes her routine with more clothes on than when she started. Then, when Simon finds her in the bathtub, it's glaringly obvious that some bubbles were strategically placed over the equally-obvious swimsuit top she's wearing. And finally, she participates in an awkwardly edited love scene comprised of bare backs and close-ups of an ecstasy-riddled William Forsythe. No thanks.
So how about the violence? Well, Strike Force certainly delivers "violence;" but it's so over the top, it's laughable. Seriously, I was laughing. The opening and ending shootouts are crazy. The good guys just stand in the wide open waving around guns and emptying their clips, and the bad guys -- usually just lined up like targets from Hogan's Alley -- are picked off. My personal favorite shooting involved some dope getting drilled with automatic weapon fire and falling forward off a balcony. Unfortunately, these moments of maniacal violence, while fun, are few and far between. Strike Force runs a shade north of 90 minutes, but thanks to godforsaken writing and acting, the whole affair seems much more bloated.
For the most part, the flick looks okay, displaying that "soft" look of most C-grade video actioners. One sequence became inexplicably "staticky," as if I were vacuuming near the TV. Odd. In the sound department, the 2.0 mix underperforms, particularly in the battle scenes. The gunfire is shallow, like someone put a microphone next to bowl of freshly poured Rice Krispies, and the explosions are equally unimpressive. Trailers are it for extras.
Then there's Burt. This guy showed up, and I couldn't be sure it was him until he took off the glasses. Director Mike Kirton must be a family friend.
A must for you Andrew Divoff completists out there, but that's it.
The jury will disregard Strike Force.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R