SIX DEGREES OF CAST & CREW
- “Crime Zone” was directed by Luis Llosa, and edited by William Flicker. Llosa also directed 1993′s “Sniper”. While Flicker is the editor for the new “Sniper: Reloaded” (2010), he did not edit the original “Sniper”, and Luis Llosa is not directing the new “Sniper” either. “Crime Zone” star Peter Nelson is also producing the new “Sniper”.
I love me a good post-apocalyptic cyber-punk sci-fi/action movie. Now, allow me to revise that by removing the word “good”, as I’ve yet to find a film that legitimately warrants being referred to as such. I didn’t even dig “Blade Runner”.
So if there’s hardly any sincerely quality movies of this genre, what is it about them that I’m continuously drawn to? In a word : atmosphere. I absolutely adore a cold, dripping, grey-metal, steam-vented, dimly back-lit world. Where spaceships drone like death, computers click and whirrrr louder than a golf cart, and keyboards and synthesizers hem and haw and harmonize the sheet music of the cosmos.
And it’s heaven until the people show up, chewing syntho-food and eschewing nonsensical new curse words.
All in all, 1989′s “Crime Zone” nearly perfects what I love and hate about its type of movie. It’s wonderfully dark and moody until somebody opens their big yap.
In this case, the yappers are Bone and Helen. Helen is somewhat notably played by Sherilyn Fenn, recognized from “Zombie High”, “Twin Peaks”, the Malcovich/Sinise version of “Of Mice & Men”, and to this day a healthy dose of one-off TV appearances. She’s got plenty of drive and genuine ability, and carries most of the scenes. And by that I mean, she carries Bone, played by action star Peter Nelson. “Who?”, you might ask.
If you’ve seen “Die Hard 2 : Die Harder”, you’ve seen Peter Nelson. Yes, one of the villains. And no, not one of the bad-asses on snowmobiles or getting stabbed with an icicle. He’s the nervous last-minute-replacement villain who constantly looks like he doubts the whole evil operation and might do something about it, but doesn’t. Thankfully, the name of Bone’s game in “Crime Zone” IS to do something about the rut he’s in.
The rut in question is the dystopian, warring-nations world that he lives in, aka the “crime zone”. Now there’s two things that “Crime Zone” likes to indulge in…
1) Perfectly placed floodlights amidst coincidental fog or smoke. EVERYwhere. I mean, every location has at least one.
2) Vagueness. Glorious, fill-in-your-own-blanks vagueness.
Here’s the best I could surmise about the “Crime Zone” world : The city/country/nation/continent is at war against the other city/country/nation/continent, perpetually. Society is divided into four levels of status/class, segregated by location. The film spends most of it’s time in the lowest class area, where people are called “Sub-grades” and are bullied the police state who won’t let you be in a relationship. The Utopian upper-upper-upper-class land they hope to find is also the enemy territory, but apparently you can be in a relationship and the women are divine.
Also, if you commit big enough crimes, you’re executed in the Justice Superdome via genitals-exploding-circular-heatrays.
So first we meet Bone, the freshly-fired security guard who was born (I think) with a general serial number a name, and eventually nicknamed “Bone”, because “That’s what they call me.” Then we meet Helen the prostitute, and it’s love at first site. Only Bone’s childhood buddy Creon (who probably huffs freon, given his wired expressions) doesn’t like her, and considers Bone a traitor for hooking up with her and not wanting to be a “Fuck Up” anymore (their gang name).
Then we meet cigar-gesturing David Carradine, aka “Jason”, just starting to grow his hair out and projecting a wonderfully Kevin Spacey-esque smugness. Jason wants Bone and Helen (I really want to make some sort of Helena Bonham-Carter joke with those names, but there ain’t one) to steal a secret computer disc from the hospital-that-isn’t-a-hospital and in exchange they can go to the upper-upper-upper-class sector and blah blah blah blah blah typicality blah blah.
Plot-wise, it’s not an interesting premise. The story and character blueprints are very much borrowed from everything. That being said, there is a twist-ending that, while not terribly inventive, is delivered decently. Carradine’s smug, matter-of-factness humorously saves us the eye-rolling of what would otherwise probably be an overly dramatic and thusly underwhelming revelation. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, “Chasing Amy” love triangle style moment that will both surprise you and make you laugh.
And there’s a handful of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Seriously, when an over-acting policewoman tells the doe-eyed good guy to whip out Little Bone so she can see if he’s just been with a prostitute or not, it’s tough to keep a straight face after hearing a Peruvian woman say, “Show me your dick, Sub-grade!”
And then there’s this guy…
But again, it’s a very vague, cookie-cutter story. With performances alternately flat or awkward, we’re of course left not really caring how or why everybody does what they do. Everything just sort of cruises along rather briskly, like a tour of Hollywood where the guide just says, “There’s the Beverly Hillbillies house”, without explaining anything further.
That being said, it’s to your advantage to ignore the tour guide (or in this case, the dialogue and plot), and just enjoy the view. Because if “Crime Zone” succeeds anywhere, it’s the view, the atmosphere. Locations are beautifully (in that futuristic war zone sense) designed, lit, and photographed. There’s many shots of just empty streets or warehouses that I just wish I could walk right into, gorgeous blues and greys and dirty-steels that would make for great Geiger-esque paintings (androgynous sex-cyborgs subtracted). While the movie does movie along quite swiftly, plot-wise, it is smart enough to take these choice breathers, letting the fog and keyboards tell their own stories.
RATING: Three smug cigar-holding hand gestures out of Five