Ditch Brodie. Half awesome. All man.
The entire marketing campaign for Terminal Velocity could have been built around that element, the in-movie dialogue from Charlie Sheen stating it’s a combination of Dick and Richard. Even when smashed together, those two don’t bring up the feeling of ditch, and the irony is that Sheen would certainly end up in one, probably last week.
Ditch is a reckless ladies man, Sheen stretching his acting abilities about as far as he did in Two and a Half Men. Gimmicky action movies end up revolving around a singular element, so Ditch is a skydiver, even a stripper if the job calls for it. Amazing then all of the trouble he finds himself in suddenly requires skydiving.
He’s lured into a mix of Russian mafia and KGB by an alluring, seemingly perky woman, played by a usual background player-turned-lead in Nastassja Kinski. Her mysterious edge turns into a forced romance because ’90s action movies said so, and then end up working together to take down George Gandolfini and Shooter McGavin… err, Christopher McDonald. Hilarious is how those two are passed off as Russian, their subtitled native language spoken but hidden by a series of pipes in a tracking shot to let the frame printed words do the work. Actually having them speak Russian directly in front of the camera is asking a lot.
There are wide gaps in logic required to even kick start Terminal Velocity’s action/talk, action/talk phase in the back half. Kinski goes to ludicrous lengths to fake her own death, a plan constructed on a number of guesses and assumptions. Reality doesn’t let even a portion of that scheme fall into place. She even airs out the truth to a dedicated group of small town diner types, speaking out loud about hidden gold and broken romance. It’s amazing how none of them seem to catch onto this plan.
Once it’s off and running, Velocity may never find smarts, but it does work in some unreal stuntwork with dual planes, hanging, and visual effects to piece it all together. Stuff blows up a lot, and a grandly orchestrated score belongs in a better movie. Velocity almost confuses itself with an aggressive title card that wants audiences to think it’s a Die Hard spin-off. It takes more a title card and scoring for that.
In the scheme of Mill Creek catalog affairs, Terminal Velocity just cracks their upper echelon, which is still decidedly average. Old, dusty masters with a light hint of filtering is just enough to knock ‘em over a few points, even if on the high side it’s pretty admirable.
You can’t ignore the rush of facial detail that pours in under scrutinizing close-ups. It’s a view of Charlie Sheen thousands of women are probably familiar with, and probably a few thousand liquor bottles too. Pores are defined, and the hair not taken down by the intermittent black crush is resolved. The camera focus keeps things firm.
Where it tumbles is the compression that squeezes in with or without microscopic video dissection, crumbling under the slightest of grain structures. Interiors, particularly those of the apartment early on, weigh on the image. Exteriors are cleaner although with a sense of being artificial. The film stock feels crushed with a imprecise quality that blots out the precision detail and limits the effectiveness of the resolution.
Velocity remains in great shape, the print free of any source defects. There’s nary a scratch or speck of dirt to be found. Fading hasn’t affected this piece either, a colorful and quite saturated early ’90s effort. Flesh tones are a little pasty, certainly not matching the desert sun that shines over most of this movie. That’s probably some of the filtering coming into play, although to a minimal degree.
There’s quite a bit of bite to this DTS-HD mix, the film fitted with enough explosions to satisfy the bass hound. Cars explode, buildings explode, planes explode; it’s almost therapeutic to the right audience. Shoot-outs are spacious in their design, lively enough to suck the listener into the mix. There’s also a memorable piece of work inside a smokestack where everything begins to echo and spill into the surrounds.
Elements don’t blend well though, and it doesn’t take long to piece that together. There’s an early apartment fight where the score swells up, almost rendering the kicks and punches obsolete. The balance just isn’t there. Fidelity is fine, signs of aging non-existent. The mix picks up in the back half too, the score settling down, although not losing the rear presence, and playing nice with all of the gunfire.
Mill Creek gives purchasers a trailer.
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