Counterstrike (2003) Movie Review

Here’s the thing: I really don’t care that the filmmakers of “Counterstrike” decided to make the President of the United States a woman, but why in the world does the President dress like a plain housewife? You’d think that going to a historical summit with her Chinese counterpart would mean more appropriate attire was in order. For that matter, why is a historical summit between America and China regarding nuclear freeze and the possibility of world peace taking place onboard a cruise ship? Isn’t security the main reason why summits usually take place in locales such as Camp David?

Also, although the cruise ship is off limits to normal guests, why is an actor and his co-star allowed to join the voyage? Then again, it’s trying to make sense of things like the premise of “Counterstrike” that gets me in trouble in the first place. “Counterstrike” looks and feels like a made-for-cable movie, and that’s probably because it is. (And it wasn’t even made for premium cable, but basic cable, which explains the constant fading out every 15 minutes or so.) Unfortunately, “Counterstrike” is just as vacuous as most made-for-basic cable TV movies. For instance, although the cruise ship is supposed to go into a voluntary media blackout (which means no communication with the outside world, as if, once again, this makes any sense whatsoever) apparently the President allows one of her Secret Service agent to have a ham radio for him to keep in touch with the family back home.

The film stars Rob Estes as Tom Kellogg, an ATF agent who, along with big brother Vince (Joe Lando), a Secret Service agent in charge of protecting the President, has to thwart a terrorist hi-jack of the cruise ship. (See, I told you setting your historical summit on a damn cruise ship wasn’t such a bright idea.) As it turns out, one of the actors allowed onboard (apparently to teach the two Presidents Tai Chi, or some similar farfetched reason the writers came up with) is Marie Matiko (“The Art of War”) and she’s in cahoots with the bad guys. The terrorists are made up of American ex-military “patriots” who thinks peace with China is a bad idea, and wants to steal the Chinese’s nuclear codes in order to give it to Taiwan, since according to our brilliant writers, tiny Taiwan, which is being constantly threatened with annihilation by giant China, is the real enemy of peace.

Conveniently, the Chinese President is such a dummy that he’ll actually carry all of his country’s nuclear launch codes in a suitcase being carried around by a skinny guy. And oh yeah, the bad guys snuck a bunch of guns onboard the cruise ship in a lead suitcase because, as one thug helpfully points out, “lead suitcases can’t be x-ray”. Yes, that makes perfect sense, unless having a suitcase that “can’t be x-ray” onboard the same cruise ship as the one with the American President is acceptable. Oh my head. Must…numb…brain…!

Before you can say, “Hey, wait a minute, isn’t this the plot of ‘Speed 2’?” the terrorists take over the cruise ship, with only Vince still on the loose. Meanwhile, Tom has since discovered Monica’s involvement with the terrorists, but since the President decided to set her historical summit onboard a cruise ship that is conveniently blacked out from the rest of the world, they don’t warn the ship in time. But if you’ll remember, Vince had that ham radio of his, which was also conveniently exempted from that whole media blackout rule. Gosh, it’s a good thing “Counterstrike” is so…convenient.

All of this leads me to one thing: Is Richard P. Henrick’s book, from which this movie was adapted, as confoundedly stupid as this movie’s screenplay? If so, why did someone buy the rights to a book with such a shoddy premise just to transfer said premise to movie form? It boggles the mind. And since “Counterstrike” is just a TV movie with all the commercials taken out, the action, as well as the acting, ranges from mediocre to barely acceptable. This includes Marie Matiko, an actor I adore, who is terrible here.

The movie is essentially Joe Lando and Rachel Blakely, whose character is conveniently Tom’s girlfriend (as if having Lando be Tom’s brother wasn’t convenient enough), as they go all “Die Hard” on the terrorist. Later, Tom shows up by parachuting onboard the cruise ship. And yes, the whole thing is as ill conceived as it sounds. Then again, everything is so blatantly ludicrous, maybe there are some “so bad it’s good” points to be had. Of course, a trip to the corner store for some six-pack would be in order, since alcohol tends to numb the brain and distort logical reasoning, and that’s absolutely necessary when viewing “Counterstrike”.

Although I have to admit that the two fisticuff scenes between the lovely Rachel Blakely and the equally lovely Marie Matiko were good for some chuckles.

Jerry London (director) / Richard P. Henrick (book), J.B. White (screenplay)
CAST: Rob Estes …. Thomas Kellogg
Joe Lando …. Vince Kellogg
Rachel Blakely …. Brittany Cooper
Marie Matiko …. Monica Chang

Buy Counterstrike on DVD