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Worth A Look: 14.29%
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Pretty Bad85.71%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 1 rating

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by Jay Seaver

"Basic boy gets teleporter, meets girl, goes on the run story."
2 stars

SCREENED AT BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL 44: "Axcellerator" is one of those movies that straddles the border of irreverence and parody, to the extent that its makers would probably, upon being asked which it was, ask what you wanted it to be. There are worse offenses a movie can commit than landing in that grey area, especially since it's got the energy and most of the charm it needs to pull either option off, but every once in a while it does something dumb enough that you can't help but wonder what it could have been if some of its ambition and enthusiasm had made its way into the script.

Said script has Dane (Ryan Wesen), the son of a car thief who was apparently legendary in small-time-crook circles, stealing the car that his father had targeted when he had the fatal heart attack, only to have a mad scientist try and do so at the same time - one who was seemingly being tailed by every domestic security agency the United States has. One chase and explosion later, Dane is magically back home in New York, because the invention everyone was after is a brainwave-reading teleportation device. They're still after it, even though it's somewhat wonky, with the head of one faction (John James) springing psychopathic tracker Brink (Sam J. Jones) from prison against the wishes of the other (Maxwell Caulfield), and a double-agent (Sean Young) playing both sides. Said wonkiness has saddled Dane with traveling companion Kate (Laura James), so they decide to head back to her home in Arizona the old-fashioned way. Good thing Dane's father taught him a trick or two.

Why? Well, she's got a dog at the vet, and though I can't recall anybody in the film actually say that this is why they're going back to Arizona, it's the closest thing to a sensible reason for someone doing anything in the movie. The script is actually kind of impressive in how it covers the whole range of dumb, but eventually the filmmakers seem to just run out of even bad explanations and handwaving, appealing to a higher power and treating that like it's supposed to be satisfying. It's frustrating to watch, because there's no moment where details feel like they're fleshing out characters and themes, as opposed to being nuisances.

The action is treated with a little more enthusiasm, but it's not exactly good. Filmmaker David Giancola has the money to wreck a few cars when need be and enough of a throwback sensibility to go for a 1980s feel with his car chases, but they're not nearly as thrilling as they should be. The chases rarely show both parties in the same shot, and the other action is seldom even as ingenious or intricate as that. It's not obviously underwhelming - Giancola and cinematographer Georgia Pantazopoulos shoot a nice-looking film - but it would be nice if they could actually pull back and show the full scale of what is going on more often, rather than have Giancola and editor C. Alec Kozlowski do a decent job of cutting so that it's not immediately obvious they could only do so much.

It helps a lot that Ryan Wesen and Laura James are bringing enough energy and charisma to the film that they can at least sell the audience on Dane and Kate being good but freaked-out people handling an insane situation the best they can. There's not a whole lot of depth to these characters, but they show an immediate fondness for each other and the folks around them that makes them very easy to cheer for. John James is a good counter to them as a hiss-worthy villain, and Sam J. Jones is an impressively loopy goon, so far over the top that he may singlehandedly push the movie from action-comedy to spoof.

Wherever one figures it finally lands, it's not exactly a bad way to fill out a streaming service's "sci-fi" or "action" selections - it's got a couple likable young leads, some seasoned pros around them, and is capable enough from moment to moment. It doesn't have a single clever or interesting detail or any particularly noteworthy action or effects segments, though, and by the time it's done, there's not much to separate it from the other thousand times a macguffin has wound up in a couple good-looking kids' hands.

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originally posted: 02/21/19 11:25:12
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User Comments

3/31/19 Ing It's a fine B movie. 4 stars
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Directed by
  David Giancola

Written by
  David Giancola
  Mike Ford

  Ryan Wesen
  Laura James
  John James
  Sam J. Jones
  Sean Young

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