Movies like “Absolon” really try my patience. Like another Direct-to-Video victim about Corporate Conspiracy called “Power Play”, “Absolon” has it in its head that it’s important — or, at the very least, substantial. Of course the problem with this notion lies in the screenplay, which has so little originality, so little concept of logic, that one wonders how the screenwriter (in this case veteran Brad Mirman, whose one decent movie was “Joshua”) ever got it into his head that he was capable of writing a movie with any substance at all. Needless to say, “Absolon” is pure garbage. Worst, it believes it’s not.
It’s the near future, and a mysterious and incurable virus has attacked mankind. The result: 5 billion dead, and mankind has to use a drug called “absolon” to keep the virus at bay. Despite what would seem like a cataclysmic event, the world continues with minor variations to daily life, such as an omnipresent computer voice, people are paid in “hours” instead of “dollars”, and really really advance virtual reality technology exist. (Well, the VR shows up for about 3 minutes of screentime, since most of the budget probably went to hiring Lambert).
Christopher Lambert (“Fortress”) plays our hero, Norman Scot, a cop assigned to investigate the murder of a doctor believed to have found a cure for the virus. As soon as the doctor mentions in his video diary about the “arrogance of mankind” and the magic word (“rain forest”) we know we’re in for a movie with delusions of substance. This delusion continues throughout the movie, and Mirman throws one buzzword after another at us just in case we didn’t “get” that he’s trying to do something important here. In fact “Absolon” could very well be “Power Play”, but with a better cast of B-actors and a couple of more bucks (although not too much more) to throw at the screen to give it that “near-future” look.
Without belaboring the point too much, “Absolon” tries too hard to look “futuristic”, but it’s all for naught because the movie is by-the-numbers low-budget moviemaking, from the uneven acting to the clich’ screenplay to the repetitive direction. You can count on an action scene popping up every 10 minutes or so just to keep the audience from dozing off. Even if screenwriter Mirman wanted to turn his movie into “The Insider”, with nonstop chatter about conspiracies and blah blah blah, the producers would still force him to include one action scene every 10 minutes or so. Gun battles are cheap to stage and most important of all, loud.
Remember that these films are basically moneymaking schemes. The point is to make money; making a good movie is an afterthought. To achieve this end, producers hedge their bets by throwing in known names like Lambert, Ron Perlman as the head honcho of The Conspiracy, and Lou Diamond Phillips as The Conspiracy’s Black-Suited Gunman (who wears dark glasses, of course). This isn’t brain surgery. Mirman’s script might have been something interesting when the filmmaking process began, but it’s become nothing more than a means to some quick cash.
If you’ve noticed, I haven’t bothered to talk about The Conspiracy. That’s because it’s readily obvious who is part of The Conspiracy. This time around we get Evil Corporations in cahoots with the Evil Government. It’s all very Evil because, just like “Absolon” itself, the final reward is money. How interesting. Did I just discover another Conspiracy? Hmmm. I don’t know, but making a piece of garbage like “Absolon” just to make money does seem very EEE-vil to me.
On the plus side, I’m glad Lambert is still working, even though it’s now impossible to hear his raspy voice. (Although it might not seem like it, I am a fan of the actor, and wishes he would just pick some better projects.) Also, Lou Diamond Phillips seems to be settling into the Cheesy Villain roles. He was just as cheesy in “A Better Way to Die” and even cheesier in “Stark Raving Mad”. If he keeps this up, people won’t remember him as “that La Bamba guy” but rather as “that guy who always plays cheesy villains in all those B-movies”. If I were him I’d turn down some of these roles.
Ron Perlman (“Blade 2″) is also in the movie. Ah, Ron Perlman. I can only imagine that Ron owed someone a big favor. Either that, or someone has a picture of poor Ron in a compromising position.
To sum up “Absolon”: Chris discovers The Conspiracy. Chris runs. Gunfire. Duck, Chris! Ron chastises Lou in a Dark Smoky Room. More talk of The Conspiracy. Chris runs some more. Gunfire! Duck, Chris! Ron chastises Lou in a Dark Smoky Room. Repeat until the 90 minutes is up. Good night, folks. Everybody please proceed to the front line to collect your paychecks.
David Barto (director) / Brad Mirman (screenplay)
CAST: Christopher Lambert …. Norman Scott
Ron Perlman …. Murchison
Lou Diamond Phillips …. Walters
Kelly Brook …. Claire