Saturday 4 August 2012

Trancers 4: Jack Of Swords (1994)

I am as surprised as anyone else would be by what I'm about to say. I almost gave this movie, the fourth in a b-movie franchise, a 7/10. Almost. I came so close and argued with the little voices inside my head for quite some time before accepting the fact that there were just too many flaws here to allow me to rate the movie as very good. The logic is even flimsier than it was in the preceding three movies (and it was already very flimsy indeed) and the plot is almost wafer-thin this time around.

Here is the plot, in one simple sentence - Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson again, he's like a cross between Tom Atkins and Clint Eastwood) is again due to head into the past for a mission but he ends up going too far and finds himself in ye olde worlde setting just in the right time and place to fight some trancers that keep local commoners living in fear.

That's really all there is to it and that's all it needs. The Trancers series has never quite reached greatness but it's also never been less than enjoyable. That's due, in no small part, to the witty writing, the central character of Jack Deth and the way he is portrayed by Thomerson.

Clabe Hartley plays the main villain this time around and he's at least a lot of fun but, sadly, the rest of the cast just lack a certain something. They're not bad, exactly, but they just don't seem to have the spark inside that would make them fun to watch onscreen. Lochlyn Munro is probably the most recognisable face onscreen but Alan Oppenheimer, Mark Arnold, Stacie Randall, Terri Ivens and Ty Miller all join in with the fun.

Peter David is responsible for the thin, but fun, screenplay while David Nutter (more well-known for his work on some great TV shows than his few features) does a fine job as director. Transalation = the camera is pointing the right way most of the time and nobody walks into any of the walls (at least, not as far as I could see).

It's a slight step down from the preceding three movies but Trancers 4: Jack Of Swords is still tremendous fun, which is all the more surprising considering that it IS a fourth instalment of a movie series that should have given up and expired under the sheer weight of its own paradoxes well before now. It just goes to show how important a sense of humour and a fun approach to the material is, qualities that this series gets right every time and that makes everything a lot more enjoyable for the viewer.


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