Terminal Velocity Recap

Jamie

Ditch Brodie plays by his own rules. This gets him mixed up with a beautiful lady who happens to also be an ex-KGB spy. She enlists Ditch to help stop a group of her fellow spies who are trying to steal a planeful of gold from the former Soviet Union. Can he stop the baddies (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Terminal Velocity.

How?! Ditch Brodie is a rebel without a cause. So even in the midst of an FAA investigation you better believe he’s ready to give a skydiving lesson to a mysterious lady who shows up out of the blue. On their way up for the dive Ditch is shocked to find that she has jumped out of the plane without a parachute! He attempts to dive after her but is too late and she crashes to the ground. Shaken up, Ditch is convinced something is off. He begins to investigate and goes to her apartment in Tucson where he’s attacked by a couple of thugs. Back at the skydiving center he is approached by an Assistant DA who is investigating the death and Ditch brushes him off. As he rides the desert in thought he notices a small plane similar to a plane seen in footage of the incident. He chases it to a gas station where he discovers that the woman, Chris, is still alive. She’s an ex-KGB spy who is trying to escape a group of her fellow former spies. Using the incident as leverage she forces him to do a night dive with her in order to infiltrate the industrial plant she worked at. Inside he retrieves a MacGuffin and barely gets away from the same group of thugs he encountered before. He retreats to the skydiving center where he arranges for a meeting between him, Chris, and the Assistant DA. But it’s a trick! The Assistant DA is actually one of the ex-KGB thugs! Chris and Ditch use a rocket car (for real) to escape and end up in the desert expositing about their histories as spies/olympic level gymnasts (also real). Chris takes the MacGuffin back and is able to track where the ultimate treasure, a planeful of Soviet gold, is hidden. The ex-KGB thugs are aiming to steal it, but Chris wants to stop them as it’ll spell doom for Russia as it tries to get its footing. They find the plane and confirm the treasure, but have to retreat when the thugs show up. Ditch is having second thoughts and lets Chris go off alone (and immediately get kidnapped). Feeling bad, Ditch chases after them with the help of a biplane, boards the treasure plane, damages it, and saves Chris. After parachuting to the ground they dispatch the last of the thugs. Ditch is now an American and Russian hero and he and Chris get medals and smooch. THE END.

Why?! Pretty good motivation film. Ditch doesn’t have much other than survival and getting hot ladies. Chris’ motivation, though, is real interesting. Her group of ex-KGB operatives find themselves a bit lost after the fall of the Soviet Union so her colleagues plan to hijack and steal a bunch of gold for their new capitalist lives. Chris is like, no way. She still has family in Russia and crippling the young country by stealing all their wealth isn’t in the cards for her. It’s pretty interesting to see how movies made their way through a changing world.

Who?! Nothing super interesting here. There was some thanks and an In Memory credit for a make-up artist on the film. I couldn’t find out much about his passing, though. Some interesting actors show up in bit parts though. Melvin Van Peebles, who just passed away, is there, as is Rance Howard, father of Ron Howard.

What?! Put this squarely on the Coke side of the Coke-Pepsi debate. I wonder if it’s because we are focusing on the 90’s that it seems like every film had to have a fridge full of soda. Gandolfini’s character also has a funny quirk of chewing Certs when he’s nervous… at least when he’s in the guise of a lowly assistant DA and not a ruthless ex-KGB agent.

Where?! This appears to mostly be set in Arizona. Several times they orient themselves around Tucson and Phoenix as they drive and dive their way around the state. Years after mapl.de.map it’s always fun to find another one that would have been a good choice for a state. Interesting that American Anthem was our choice for Arizona back in the day as that also is gymnastics centric… I wonder if that is how Sheen’s character ended up there. Was at the gymnastics training facility and eventually drifted out to the skydiving area.

When?! Patrick helpfully noted the presence of a calendar flipped to March in one of the scenes. Otherwise I didn’t note anything in particular about when this might be taking place. That’s good enough for a C, with some room for improvement if they were to at some point enjoy some green beer or whatnot.

Fun movie with some real bad acting by the main players, some good acting by Gandolfini, and some Christopher MacDonald acting from Christopher MacDonald. It’s also pretty confusing if you were simply trying to watch a glossy 90’s action flick about skydiving. At times it’s like they assume the audience wrote the movie or something. Sheen is skydiving into a smokestack and then running away with something in a coat rack while being chased by Russians (who don’t sound Russian) as he does the bidding of a Russian (who kinda sounds Russian). At a certain point you just have to let the movie flow, and indeed it slowly coalesces over one of the several necessary exposition scenes. I got it by the end, but it does throw you for a loop in the moment. All that said, it’s exactly what I want out of my 90’s action. I’d call the genre Electric Guitar Action and it was perfected in the 90’s. As for Crackerjack, hoooo weee. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I loved watching this film. A perfect Die Hard knock-off… and somehow also starring Nastassja Kinski! It’s just a perfect combination of weird sets, weird lines, explosions, and a laugh-out-loud hilarious flashback scene.One of my absolute favorite Bring a Friend entries thus far. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got Charlie Sheen acting like a mad man! We’ve got skydiving! We’ve got a cold war storyline for post-Soviet American politics! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had to do a double take when combing through the keywords and plot details … KGB agent? We’re talking about like 1994 right? Once you watch the film it all makes a bit more sense, but it does, in some ways, all feel like a script that was leftover from the heady days of Rambo III which they forgot to make until three years too late (oddly, a lot like Police Academy: Mission to Moscow). Watching the trailer it also seemed very weird to see Charlie Sheen in a genuine action role … it was hard to tell how much this film was actually a comedy. What were my expectations? I really don’t know. I guess I expected there to actually be very little skydiving in the end and a whole lot more of a convoluted political plot.

The Good – I got it half right, there is actually quite a bit of skydiving and in the end the skydiving was the best part of the film (by far). Sheen being a former-Olympian-turned-bad-boy-skydiver is quite good and I kind of wish they had done Terminal Velocity 2 just to see how wild they would get with it. He does come across as a weird early-90s American James Bond in a way, all the way down to the overly complex story involving the dissolving KGB in a Russia teetering on the brink of civil war. Best Bit: The skydiving duh.

The Bad – The overly complex political plotline was just a tad bit too overly complicated. It takes quite a bit of effort to untangle who are the bad former KGB, who are Russian mafia (were they all former KGB, just working for the mob remotely?), and who are the good former KGB. Perhaps it all made a lot more sense at the time, but for a while I was skeptical the plot synopsis could possibly be right because it all seemed very under-explained. Sheen was a bit too jokey for my taste in action, personally (admittedly it probably struck the right tone for an American-in-a-James-Bond story, it just isn’t my cup of tea). Fatal Flaw: Really hard to understand, and I usually am quite good at parsing even the most ludicrous of bad movie plot lines.

The BMT – Unfortunately, beyond the usual “extreme sport” bad movie subgenre, or “skydiving” subsubgenre I don’t really see why this could get any play in bad movie circles. It is actually pretty good if you can understand the plot at all. It looks good and has great skydiving action. I kind of dug it. Double feature with The Chase for sure. Did it meet my expectations? Half and half. There was a lot more skydiving action than I expected (good) and, yeah, it was a little too convoluted as far as political intrigue (bad).

Roast-radamus – Really fun Product Placement (What?) for a few things, but my favorite is Certs which Galdofini nervously chomps on just prior to the movie’s twist. Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Arizona, which is actually a pretty rare setting (and one we also saw recently with Fire Birds). And a genuine MacGuffin (Why?) for the mysterious plane which, it turns out, contains a boatload of gold. Closest to Good I think, I like the movie and I think I would like it even more on subsequent viewings when I understand better what it is about.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – In our continued adventures in Half Past Dead BMT Crossover Episode this seems ripe for it. Because guess where Shasha Petrosevitch is from? Well … he’s American, but it seems like he must have some connection to Russia. In this sequel to Terminal Velocity, the Half Past Dead team come to recruit Krista (and Ditch) whom they’ve heard just might be Half Past Dead. Disappointed when he realizes that she merely faked her own death, Sasha goes to leave when over the wire it is revealed that that boatload of gold from the first film is missing in Russia once again. “Missing gold, that’s my speciality ,” Sasha says, “looks like I’m having a homecoming.” Flying to Russia with the Half Past Dead Team, Sasha reveals that he too was once high level KGB, deep-cover in the US and given a burn notice (which he evaded) in the early 90s prior to becoming a bonafide American hero. It turns out that the gold was stolen by a dissident looking to start their own Siberian kingdom. Doing a sub-zero skydive (“I invented sub-zero skydiving!” says Ditch), they get the gold, Ditch still has the lady, and Sasha gains two friends. “We could use your skydiving skillz on our team, problem is … you have to have seen the other side.” He shoots them both in the chest, black screen, cheers from the audience. Half Past Cold: Temperature Drop. The sequel series would establish that they indeed both survived and started the Russian branch of the Half Past Dead Team, in Half Past Dead: Moscow.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched Crackerjack (which I pronounce Crackerjack!! with a double exclamation point). It’s about a police officer named Jack who’s become reckless after his family is murdered by the mob (thus his nickname Crackerjack), who then gets himself into a real Die Hard situation at a remote mountain resort. He has to defeat the terrorist Getz (played by Christopher Plummer (!)) who wants mob diamonds to start maybe like a fascist utopia (?), and also he was the one that killed Jack’s family (!) and also he’s rigged the surrounding glacier to explode and bury the resort (!). It’s a lot to absorb, and yet as far as a straight-to-video feature it might be one of the best ones I’ve ever seen in its own way. Lots of hand-to-hand action, but because it’s Die Hard Thomas Ian Griffith also gets beat up a lot which is fun. The plot is kind of convoluted, but there are a lot of explosions and model work and as far as lightweight background noise it is really really enjoyable. Maybe don’t sit down in earnest to watch this thing, but do you have some mindless work you need done? This is a great diversion. A. I love it. I want to watch all of TIG’s films now. This is what I always wanted with Bring a Friend, but somehow we always watch things like A Talking Cat?! which are garbage.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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