PendulumReviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 05/02/04 18:18:11
"Pendulum". When I think of that word, I get the vision of something bouncing redundantly back and forth, never gaining any momentum, never deviating from the laws of predictability, and certainly not something Iíd spend 94 minutes watching.Unfortunately, the movie Pendulum is a lot like that too. Aside from some truly bizarre gimmick casting, a few gorgeous young women, and a plot amazingly comprised of virtually ever cable flick ever made, Pendulum is an outright chore to sit through.
Imagine the most bizarre miscasting you could humanly imagine. Marlon Brando as Batman? Michael Jackson as Pinocchio? Got that beat. How about Rachel Hunter as a tough-as-nails Texas homicide detective? And NO, Pendulum is not some Naked Gun-style spoof. The former Aussie supermodel (as well as former Mrs. Rod Stewart) apparently now has the acting chops to carry a whole jumbled and confusing mystery thriller all by herself? I guess those roles in the blockbusters Redemption of the Ghost and Two Shades of Blue really paid off, because here she is runniní the show! (In all fairness, I must admit that while Hunterís performance is generally lifeless, there are a few moments when sheís a little... less lifeless, I suppose.)
Hunter plays Detective Amanda Reeve, and as the film opens she is investigating a nasty rash of hooker homicides. Her clearly evil boss is the District Attorney (James Russo), and he suddenly yanks Reeve off the case and re-assigns her to the murder of a respected college professor. (Gotta be honest, Russo is quite good here, offering an enjoyably sleazy performance.) Predictably, the hooker murders and the college homicide are somehow connected, but Reeve must wade through various lowlifes, administrators, attorneys, and beautiful young lesbians before she can discover the truth.
Wait, did he just say "beautiful young lesbians"? I think so! Turns out that Pendulum features two of the most astonishingly attractive red herrings ever introduced to the entire watered-down genre. Through the course of her investigation, Reeve repeatedly has to question two former students of the now-dead professor, and what students they are! Sure, itís a near-meaningless subplot, but Iíll take a lesbian-filled subplot over more dream sequences and moody flashbacks any day. Much like any other mystery, much time is spent setting up false suspects and mildly interesting revelations, while everythingís tied to some sordid closen-skeletons and a devious VIPís upcoming election numbers. Nothing new here, folks.
Those dream sequences and moody flashbacks make up about 65% of the filmís running time, and the result is a film that I would swear (on a stack of Bibles) breaks the laws of physics. This is easily the longest 94-minute movie Iíve ever seen. Pendulum is derivative and pretty dull, but itís not really an awful flick. If only for Ms. Hunterís surreal presence and those two gorgeous suspects, Pendulum could be worth a Ďlong-flipí while youíre clicking through the movie channels. Those who simply MUST see every single generic crime thriller that comes down the pike may enjoy it more than I did. To anyone else: more than fifteen consecutive minutes will undoubtedly cause drowsiness.
Though it may look like it, Pendulum was not a made-for-cable flick. It played at a few small festivals before then going straight to video. I mention this because films produced for cable TV can generally be forgiven when they hit DVD in a Full Frame-only format. Regardless of what this filmís original aspect ratio is, the DVD transfer is muddled and blurry.The director was going for something moody and noir-stylish, but the result is more like showy camera sweeps and fluid murkiness.
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