Sunday, 24 April 2011



Remember that movie in which Dennis Hopper played a mad bomber who kept leaving explosives around the city and taunting the cops? Yeah, me too. This is not that movie, although seven years after Speed, Hopper is again playing a mad bomber blowing things up and taunting the cops (here led by Tom Sizemore and Steven Seagal) except this time with an Irish accent. Sometimes. Maybe on four of five occasions some third assistant director managed to whisper "Pssst - Dennis, remember you're Irish!" at him just before the camera rolled; otherwise he apparently forgot and played it as the basic Dennis Hopper bad guy. Even in scenes with Michael Halsey, who looks a bit like Mick Jagger but is at least consistent in his Irish accent: albeit an accent that's so Irish it makes Ian Paisley sound Welsh. Worse, it does bring back memories of Blown Away, and the shameful stab at leprechaun-speak by Tommy Lee Jones.

Ticker pits maverick cop-on-the-edge Tom Sizemore against explodomaniac Dennis O'Hopper when Sizemore's partner gets killed and Hopper's girlfriend (Jamie Pressly) is arrested. But Hopper wants her back and is apparently prepared to blow up half the city if she isn't released. He blows up a bar, he blows up museums and a pizza joint, but what's his grand design, his masterpiece? Sizemore teams up with Steven Seagal, as head of the wacky and crazy but lovable Bomb Squad (before he got old and slow and became a pastieholic), to uncover the frankly nonsensical motivations and find the super-duper-mega-bomb-deluxe so big and powerful it requires a team of top commandos led by Ice T just to switch it on.

Despite having several massive and fantastic-looking explosions, Ticker is pretty perfunctory stuff. It's also a mess. A major plot point hangs on a crazy bag lady who memorises licence plates, which is extremely handy, and while there's a flashback as to why Sizemore is so grumpy and miserable all the time, it's never resolved. And some of the action sequences are very sloppily edited. But it IS an Albert Pyun film and like many other Pyun films, there are occasional flashes of visual panache and long tracts of dullness. Even as the seconds tick away on the bombs, and novice Sizemore panics in front of the countdown while Seagal calms him down with New Age know-yourself hippie bumper-sticker philosophising that Yoda would giggle derisively at, it's just not exciting.

And ultimately, it's an action movie: we want the big-ass explosion at the end and it's literally a damp squib when they stop it. (Everyone's safe at the end of Speed: once all the civilians are out of the blast zone we can have the huge release of everything blowing up.) Maybe there's a better ending on the promised Director's Cut which Pyun claims will be better - but he's also promising a new cut of his disastrous Captain America with 30 minutes of new footage, none of it in action sequences. Let it go, Albert: silk purses and all that. Frankly I'd rather you made something new than go back and tinker with stinkers from decades past. Nemesis was terrific in a stupid, stupid, incomprehensible way, and The Sword And The Sorceror was great sub-Conan fun. Nothing's going to salvage Ticker: it's always going to be a bit rubbish whatever snips and dubs you do. Strangely, it's a regular fixture on some of the ITV digital channels, but it's really not worth tuning in for.



No comments: