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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Beware the Military-Industrial Complex.

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Plot Overview

old men playing chessBickhart Technologies, the largest pharmaceutical company in North America, has helped elect conservative President Hart­field for the 1997–2000 term. His law-and-order administration is responsible for unparalleled cooperation among erstwhile competing agencies; they've all infiltrated each other and are not above changing sides. The army can commandeer a police station at will (“The military will soon be taking over the investigation,”) and personal property gets confiscated for the sake of national security. Video cameras monitor all citizen traffic. Says one out­side gamer to another, “A nigger can't get from Crenshaw to La Brea with­out police stopping him at least twice.” When a black fugitive is recognized on the streets of L.A., a crazed mob pursues him into a home­less encampment where the police collar him. Except now he sports a mustache that he didn't have before. They tie him to a chair in a basement where there's a jurisdictional dispute over who gets to snuff him (“Pull the noose tight and drop him like a bad habit! This man dies!”) From his squirming against the ropes and bleating into his gag, he doesn't seem to like what's about to occur, but the media doesn't think twice; they got the black man—questions about whether he was the right one not­with­standing. Then when it comes to Hart­field's fiscal policy, his administration has really out­done itself going beyond his predecessors. As writer Olen Steinhauer relates:

“it was simple, really: politicians. They were the problem. They're not interested in strengthening the nations's bottom line. They're interested in their own personal gain. But CEOs? They live and die by their bottom lines. In business, the strength of your organization is what defines your power. It's simple and, in a way, beautiful.” (307)

filesBiochemical magnate Donald Bickhart (Robert Culp)'s company has developed an experimental vaccine C.R.C.–13 to use on America's troops, which is “supposed to protect them from viral war­fare. Only the vaccine was contaminated.” The 82nd Airborne unit on whom it was tested displayed “weird neurological disorders, tremors, [and] nonspecific paresthesia.” They are being housed in the Bickhart Wing of the new VA Hospital. An enigmatic U.S. military General Adam Wood­ward (John Voight) tells his critics, “The price of freedom is high, boy. What happened was a necessary evil.” One of the sufferers, though, is suing the company. His suit is proceeding through the judicial process post haste (“The boys from the 82nd filled out a file. Some­one will do a follow-up someday.”)

file searchMeanwhile the First Lady (Donna Cherry) is a “bleeding heart liberal” who wears the pants in the White House. Before the election she was a lawyer for the ACLU who is about to get involved in the lawsuit. Traveling to the dedication ceremony of the new VA Hospital, she is staying an extra day to inter­view the boys from the 82nd, and a female Dr. Victoria Constantini (Jill Hennessy) has brought her camera along for the deposition. She inadvertently records the assassination of the First Lady.

A black ops contingent known as Black Sheep needs a fall guy to pin it on, so they've sprung a condemned black Gunnery Sergeant James Dunn (Keenen Ivory Wayans) from prison and set him up. His refusal to follow orders from his White superior officer had been his down­fall, along the lines of Steinhauer:

“my first thought, like anybody else's, was collateral damage. We're not gonna cry about dead flower girls when the drones take out a terrorist's wedding, right? But then the new thing happened. I started thinking back over the years. How much collateral damage had there been? I even used a paper and pen. Math never lies. And it hit me, finally, that the collateral damage I'd done over the years wasn't some side job—it was my job.” (326)

dwarf goatFirst he spares the goatherd and then he gets to be the sacrificial goat.


So we've got a black escaped felon framed for killing a popular White First Lady in a police state. What are his options? Not many and he shouldn't count on his day in court either. Watching the TV coverage of the dedication ceremony he spots a lady video recording it and he seeks her out. This is a good move according to, (Eccl. 4:9-12) “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall with­stand him; and a three­fold cord is not quickly broken.”

The video might clear him, and the files might help the doctor with her diagnosis. The soldier saves the life of the doctor when some­one goes about “tying up loose ends.” Further­more the guy is good company for her who hasn't got a boyfriend, or even a dog. She becomes attached to the big lunk like a regular Patty Hearst. And he gets to replace his prison grub with ordinary food. Finally, the two of them together stand a chance of enlisting the aid of a skeptical CIA Deputy Director Kenny Rackmill (Paul Sorvino.)

Production Values

” (1997) was directed by David Hogan. It was written by Keenen Ivory Wayans. It stars Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jon Voight, Robert Kotecki, and Jill Hennessy. Hennessy was more than just a pretty face; she showed great range and didn't over­play the harried witness. Wayans with whom she was matched is a good object lesson in not letting the writer take over the lead role. He was so cock­sure he had his part down pat that he failed to project it to the audience. Instead of being sang­froid he came across as indifferent. He was so confident with his lines that he didn't practice them enough so they'd roll off his tongue. The supporting actors, how­ever, played their parts to a tee.

MPAA rated it R for violence and language. It was well written oozing sarcasm and wry irony. The driving music and miry photography enhanced its Twilight Zone ambiance. It has good, believable action scenes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I appreciated its subtle humorous undertones. A casting mistake (mentioned above) brought it down a notch, this other­wise star attraction. It's pretty standard fare, make your viewing decision accordingly.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation was from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Steinhauer, Olen. The Last Tourist. Copyright © 2020 by Third State, Inc New York: Minotaur Books, 2020. Print.