Cyber Bandits (1995)

What an odd film.

Robert Hays (of all people) looking more than a decade and a half older than he did in Airplane!, plays the villain, Morgan, a billionaire so rich that he bought the entire island of Pacifica as his own personal little fiefdom.  It’s a wide-open sort of town, like Shanghai in some Thirties movie, only this was R-rated in the Nineties, so we get rather more naked boobs.  Naturally, in this vague sort of science fictional future, that means we get virtual reality sex, digital money, bicycle taxis with computerized taxi meters, and computerized automatic tattoo “printers.”

Naturally, the well-meaning boob of a hero gets involved with the girl trying to steal the secret of an absurd virtual reality weapon from Morgan (who owns her as well as everything else).  Before long, he’s got the secret tattooed on his back, and is on the run from, basically, everyone.

Joe Dante favorite Henry Gibson shows up as a nasty little mad scientist type, and the best moment comes when James Hong performs Chinese opera.  It is mildly surprising to see the familiar I.R.S. Records guy in a fedora logo at the end:  they produced the film and crammed it full of a lot of British rockers, with Spandau Ballet’s Martin Kemp in the lead, Adam Ant as his pal and Grace Jones as a devious rebel leader.

Oh, well.  It’s mostly routine, and mostly diverting, although the SF elements are minor and have little to do with the plot (although the encrypted data in the image of the hero’s tattoo is actually rather clever as McGuffins go).  There’s something tongue and cheek about the whole proceedings, as if the movie never takes itself entirely seriously and felt the need to keep reminding us that it is all just a movie.  Whether that has anything to do with Robert Hays, I don’t know.

Maybe they just picked a bad day to give up being serious

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