(Steven Lisberger, UK, 1989)
Steven Lisberger, director of Tron, has a new film on release at the moment and like his earlier SF computer epic it fails to engage the audience on an emotional level. With Tron this didn't latter too much because you knew that more amazing computer graphics would soon be along to dispel any boredom. In Slipstream, however, the special effects are kept to a minimum and despite some interesting ideas you can't help coming out of the film feeling that boredom enetered the frame just a few too many times.
Mark (Star Wars) Hamill plays Tasker, a ruthless cop on the trail of Byron (Bob Peck) a fugitive android wanted for murder. Tasher and his partner, Belitski (Kitty Aldridge), come to rest at a post-apocalyptic truck stop where they meet Matt Owens, played by Bill Paxton, who escapes with Byron, hoping to turn him in for a reward. This sets the scene for future cop Hamill to chase Matt and the android Byron Blade Runner fashion. The chase in microlight aircraft takes the four of them into the Slipstream of the title, a wind which sweeps across the land, created by man's abuse of the environment.
In the film's favour are a number of things which despite their rousing effect cannot beat the overly tiresome script. Mark Hamill's performance as Tasker, an evil cop who'll stop at nothing to get his man, is great. Elmer Bernstein's admirable soundtrack helps carry the film during the many slow passages, but is relied upon far too much. One inspired image is that of the android being crucified by moonlight on a huge box kite tethered in the slipstream. The first ten minutes set the scene for a chase movie against a stunning landscape, but Lisberger fails to use all the elements at his disposal to their potential, and what is left is a film that as soon as it begins to lift off dives earth-bound so very quickly. 5/10
Rob Dyer (July, 1989)
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