Downdraft (1996)

I sometimes find myself wondering what went wrong with some of these films.

After all, they had so much to work with here!

I suppose that’s why it comes as no surprise that this was a TV movie — or that it was a Canadian/Czech co-production.

Now, just to be clear, we aren’t talking about a terrible film, merely one that never quite comes to life.  On paper it actually sounds pretty good, in a mindless action SF film sort of way.  A top special forces officer is sprung from jail so he can save the world.  A mad scientist has killed everyone in a top secret military facility and is threatening to start shooting nukes at hostile countries if anyone tries to stop him.  We have a deadly supercomputer complete with evil AI, death traps, a nuclear reactor about to melt down, and a general with an agenda of his own who is out to stop them.  We even have the beautiful Russian computer expert for the hero to fall in love with.

But the end result never quite builds the suspense it needed and the plot seems a bit of a jumble as some of the threats just seem to get forgotten along the way.  The best moment comes when they reach the deepest level and discover a wild Forbidden Planet Krell Machine rip-off of a monster super computer.  What all the flying things and pulses of energy without any starting or ending points are meant to be, I don’t know, but the film almost wakes from its slumbers…

But only for a moment.

Oh, well.  It isn’t bad.  It even has a few moments.

Just don’t expect to be either stirred or shaken.

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