Dir: Mark L. Lester
Star: Robert Forster, Fiona Lewis, Ray Sharkey, Joanna Cassidy

Coming a year after the more famous Hooper, this is also about stuntmen, but opts to embed the characters inside a murder plot, as someone is setting their action scenes up so that death is the inevitable result. Glen (Forster) shows up after his brother is one victim, arriving at the same time as journalist BJ (Lewis), who is there to write about the brotherhood and psychology of those who take risks. As the body-count increases, however, can Glen find out who is behind the "accidents"? Despite some interesting insights into stunts and their creation, it's difficult to suspend disbelief here: surely, even in the 1970's, there be some investigation into multiple, fatal incidents on a film set? All that is here dismissed with an airy "we take care of our own".

It doesn't help that the killer is painfully obvious from about half an hour in, which makes the scenes of him/her creeping around both ridiculously irrelevant, and absolute failures as builders of tension. The technical aspects are more interesting, and the glimpse into what is required for even a relatively simple stunt enlightening - I was particularly impressed by the the high fall they did, precisely because it isn't shown in slow-motion. The cast aren't bad either, with Forster exuding a quiet confidence that fits his character. No, the weakness here is almost entirely in the script, which simply doesn't have any surprises, not in the core storyline, the relationships between the characters, or the contrived climax. And even if the DVD only cost us a buck, irritating to hear 'Goddamn' censored too.

September 2007

Cunning Stunts
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