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1 review, 9 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"Deth is coming down the line, and he's pissed!"
3 stars

Made in the wake of "Blade Runner" and "The Terminator", and stealing the core ideas from both of them, "Trancers" is inescapably a B-movie that occasionally rises above thanks to some fairly clever writing and a somewhat charismatic hero named Jack Deth.

It is "The future", about 300 years from now, give or take. Los Angeles is now "Lost Angeles" after "The Great Quake". The ruins of the city stick out of the ocean like tombstones. What's left on dry land is now called "Angel City".

Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) is a cop/bounty hunter who goes after "Trancers", mindless zombies who are psychically controlled by Deth's nemesis, "Whistler". In his spare time, he also likes to go diving through Lost Angeles and collect hubcabs and other useless artifacts.

When he learns that Whistler has gone "down the line" (time traveling to the past by transferring one's consciousness to an ancestor) to kill the ancestors of the future's leaders, Jack Deth follows. His mission: protect the forefathers of "the council" and send Whistler back up the line to stand trial in his own body.

He wakes up in 1985 in his many-times great-grandfather's body (Tim Thomerson, now with blonde hair), sporting a young new-wave girlfriend, Leena (Helen Hunt), only to find that "Whistler" has jumped into the body of a police detective.

Sound like pure B-movie sci-fi cheese so far? It is. But it's fun cheese, the kind you can laugh both with and at. There are some funny moments that were intentional, and some funnier ones that weren't. The fight scenes are really bad. The car chases are even worse. But Deth does have a few good one-liners and some cool gadgets - like a "long-second" wristwatch that can slow down time, giving him ten seconds for every one that everyone around him experiences (anybody wonder where that movie "Clockstoppers" ripped it's idea off from?)

Helen Hunt pretty much plays . . . Helen Hunt. She hasn't really progressed much as an actress, but then, the role in this movie doesn't call for much emoting. As for Tim Thomerson - well, what can I say. I've always liked the guy, one of my favorite character actors. True, he's pretty much been in only B-movies, his resume reads like a rap-sheet of guilty pleasures, and he's not the best thespian to ever grace the silver screen by any long stretch of the imagination - but he's got a gruff-yet-likeable personality and rugged B-movie hero looks, and he seems like he'd be a cool guy to have a beer and barbecue with. Like Bruce Campbell, he is one of Hollywood's "working stiffs", and certainly his charm is much of what makes a film like this bearable.

But it is cheesy. And even at a mere 80 minutes it starts to feel long. And despite some fairly clever ideas, it is still bogged down by a B-movie mentality and weak production values. And it's horribly dated, a mish-mash of 50's and 80's retro that is laughable at best. But you can certainly do worse when you're in the mood for a "drive-in double feature" kind of night.

Like the "Highlander" series, the subsequent "Trancer" films grew exponentially worse (yes, there's a whole series of them, though I gave up after about number 3), so you're best off just checking out the first one and leaving it at that.

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originally posted: 08/04/02 20:46:29
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User Comments

7/20/18 Sheldon Wiebe Far more successful than it has any right to be mix of noir, SF & weirdness. 4 stars
8/25/16 Matt Amazing. Best B movie I have ever seen. 5 stars
7/20/07 Terry in California A hoot! 4 stars
3/02/07 Sugarfoot A classic that still entertains as much as it did back in 1985 4 stars
2/21/07 Ben Robinson One of the most enjoyable B-movies to have come out of the 1980s! 5 stars
1/01/06 Marcelo Rangel Dourado da Silva Funny movie, clever story and is Tim Thomerson man, come on! 3 stars
4/09/04 HorrorScribbler Trashily amusing 3 stars
8/05/02 Grinder fun 4 stars
8/05/02 Charles Tatum Okay, but avoid the sequels like the plague 3 stars
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  02-Jul-1985 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Charles Band

Written by
  Danny Bilson

  Tim Thomerson
  Helen Hunt
  Michael Stefani
  Art LaFleur
  Telma Hopkins

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