Monday, 11 August 2014



Many years ago, before I developed much of an interest in, and indeed obsession with, film, I used to actually buy and read books, believe it or not. I distinctly remember obtaining the first two or three of a series of tacky pulp paperbacks called The Survivalist, detailing the adventures of a top CIA agent and weapons specialist trying to survive and keep his family together in a United States blasted apart in a nuclear war and Soviet invasion. Even then, even I could tell that this was imbecilic flagwaving shooty nonsense, and I gave up reading them very quickly. But then a movie showed up under the same title, and appeared to tell exactly the same story in exactly the same shooty way.

In the event, Jack Tillman: The Survivalist turns out not to be based on that series of novels, although it might as well be as it ploughs much the same furrow. Tough Texan construction man Steve Railsback has to travel north to find his son after a nuclear bomb goes off in Russia and, for no particularly convincing reason, the entire American system of government collapses in the space of about 10 minutes. Travel is forbidden, finances frozen, the National Guard are out on the streets and the previously civilised population swiftly turn into homicidal maniacs. The more immediate danger, however, is loonie National Guardsman Marjoe Gortner seizing the opportunity to pursue his decades-long feud with Railsback....

It desperately wants to be Mad Max, but frankly it lacks the raw visceral excitement, with the one major chase scene apparently taking place well within the speed limit and, rather than the dazzling vehicular mayhem we have come to demand from post-Apocalypse cinema, we only get as few people falling off their motorbikes as they can possibly get away with. Indeed the whole film is cheap and unspectacular, looking more like a bog standard TV-movie than a proper film. Maybe if it had been allowed to be considerably nastier and crazier and more sadistic, it might have been more fun. As it is, it's pretty mediocre stuff.


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