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C.Thomas Howell stars in this movie about government created cyborgs, which in the end, I actually enjoyed. There are certainly some outlandish mistakes, but overall, the production isn't really that bad...and because of this movie, I've become a fan of C.Thomas Howell. No not in the same sense one might be a fan of Clive Owen or Christian Bale or Robert Redford...but in the same sense as Bruce Campbell... I look forward to watching more C.Thomas Howell films in the future...

C.Thomas Howell is a CIA analyst who keeps having strange nightmares, and in them all his friends and associates keep getting killed by government agents. This initial premise sets you up for some neat mysteries which are fun to follow along. There are pros and cons to this movie, and the pros add up to something uniquely entertaining. I was expecting, as many do when they watch these low-budget sci-fi movies (this one produced by Roger Corman) that this movie was going to be a total piece of shit. Often I am surprised and they end up being what amounts to good "Outer Limits" episodes. This one has a lot of action, and you become pretty interested in where this story is going to lead. It doesn't end up being ultimately that profound, but being that it really isn't what you'd expect, it does have a plot, which fizzles somewhat towards the end, but ends with a to speak. It becomes fun, and C.Thomas Howell is kind of fun to watch. Essentially this movie begins like 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR, moves forward like NOWHERE MAN, and takes you to the realm of THE TERMINATOR and cyborgs with nuclear bombs in their heads...hey...and that is what makes this movie interesting. It does get kind of wacky towards the end, but because it doesn't take itself all that seriously, it works. This is certainly not the best movie ever made, but it isn't the worst, and is one of those movies that you appreciate because of its unpredictability and fun way in the direction it takes, which is I think the point.

Basically, this was a kind of fun movie to watch, and yes, it could have been better, but I don't feel I wasted my time watching it. The original, or 'clever' part of the movie is well done in the first half, and then it turns funny and wacky, campy and silly, but good to laugh at. You can go either way with this, you can say, man, they really should have kept this movie serious and taken it somewhere and they had no idea what to do with it once you find out what's really going on, or you can recognize the cheesy campy silliness for what it is and enjoy it. C. Thomas Howell gets thrown around like a rag doll for 10 minutes in one scene, and it's outrageous and the movie doesn't seem to really want to go anywhere truly serious. There's simply no budget for what that would be, and the last scene, C. Thomas Howell is having a campy good time, which made it work for me. I thought this was a good idea for a movie, and I can see it being remade, and I'll be looking forward to that.

[SPOILERS START IN THIS PARAGRAPH] Do not read if you want to be pleasantly surprised while the plot unfolds, the movie synopsis seems to be deliberately vague, and because of this, this movie is not your usual stupid cyborg action flick.

If you can't stand the New Outer Limits series, then stop reading, and go watch Transformers 2 again. As a matter of fact, never visit this site again, because while the New Outer Limits series isn't the best thing ever invented, it is a fairly well done science ficiton anthology series which can be very interesting and remarkably entertaining if you like science fiction. The production value of the series is cheap, but often the stories are very good, and even the bad ones are better than many movies made in the last 10 years that have cost 70 million dollars or more, and have made 100 million or more... I continue to bring this up, because if you're looking for stories, and you like science fiction, you are going to find the Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, Ray Bradbury Theater to be a wealth of decent stories. If you're looking for mindless action, complete with formulaic crap which plays you like a cheap fiddle over and over and over again, then you shouldn't even be reading this blog. These Outer Limits episodes are generally about how unique or interesting the stories are, and they aren't exactly full of high quality action, or production values. Without the stories, there's no reason to watch this stuff. "Story" becomes everything, and it is what makes science fiction fun. It can make you think, or simply take you in a direction you didn't expect.

SUSPECT DEVICE isn't some sort of art film, nor an 'awesome' action flick, but it has a good story. The story has flaws, C.Thomas Howell's 9mm Beretta never runs out of bullets, and there seems to be no real reason why the secret government agency has planted a nuclear bomb that is set to go off in the United States, etc, etc...but hey, this is a B-Movie, and it does have some neat stuff in it which makes it all worth it. You don't have to suspend disbelief every 10 seconds, and C.Thomas Howell seems to find the right tone for his character, and in the end has fun with it. Sure, this movie could have been better, but you wouldn't be thinking that if there wasn't something there which is good enough to be made better. This movie is a great idea, and they didn't exactly fail, and it looks good enough for the time it was made.

[SPOILERS BEGIN NOW] C. Thomas Howell thinks he's a CIA analyst but he's really a "TERMINATOR" type of cyborg made by the government. The twist is pretty neat, and even though it could have been more interesting had they not spent all their budget on action effects, gotten a couple better actors, and developed the third act better, or at the very least, made it a little more interesting regarding the two Terminators he's supposed to fight, but like Outer Limits, that's beyond the scope and time and budget limit of a movie like this. It ends on a fight scene with a helecopter that made me scared to death for the actors whose lives were in danger, obviously not in the story, they're cyborgs, but while filming, these guys could have been chopped to death in one false move by the pilot...sheesh.

You could say this movie has all the marks of a 'good' bad movie. Mind you, I don't care if they hit ALL these marks, but generally speaking, this is what your average B-Movie, or Cult movie fan wants to see...action, yes, though their guns are never reloaded and have infinite bullets, plenty of people get shot up and killed, where you sit there and go, 'oh man that guy really got hammered.' The opening scene is right-on for any good story, and is a good set up. Action, mystery, 'where is this all going to lead to?' Then, right off the bat, a cinemax style sex scene, and on to character development. C.Thomas Howell does a good job setting up this sort of 'character development' bluff, and then takes off 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR for the next act. The conspiracy takes a twist, and although the grand explaination doesn't really completely make sense, CTH (from here forth I will refer to C.Thomas Howell as CTH), I like his performance, his realizations, the actor who plays the hippie scientist is terrible, and perhaps because he's terrible it seems like what he's explaining makes no sense, although it's a decent character to have in the middle of all this. I keep asking myself, why does nobody know that CTH has a nuclear bomb inside him, and if they don't who the hell sent him on his mission in the first place? Anyway, as soon as we hit the scene to disarm the bomb, it gets wacky, and kooky like DAY OF THE DEAD or something and while it gets funky, its not abominable because none of it is really conventional at all, they go off the wall on this, and ultimately its what makes this film worth watching. I'd have done it differently, and it ends with a B-Movie-Bruce-Campbell style wink and a nod, but it places it in the 'fun B-movie' genre for this reason. Again, if you can't handle silly, weird, and even 'twisted' then you shouldn't be reading my blog. This movie, as far as I know is not currently available on DVD, and it fairly rare and only on VHS. It is also not readily or easily available to download anywhere, so I suggest you choose this one to begin your vintage sci-fi VHS collection, which is always neat to have anyway.

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