Forgotten Action Cinema: The Patriot



I like to think that, in every actor’s storied filmography, there lies a film that will get you punched directly in the face should you bring the title up within close proximity to said thespian’s fist. And while I’d like to think that Gregg Henry has a great sense of humor about such things, I truly wonder what, exactly, would happen if you asked him about the 1986 actioner “The Patriot”. Not to be confused with the Mel Gibson flick or the Steven Seagal endeavor, Frank Harris’ slipshod effort finds Henry portraying an ex-Navy SEAL turned wayward biker who is called back into action when a group of seedy terrorists begin plotting to steal quite a few nuclear weapons. “The Patriot” is a failure in nearly every aspect, from the poorly-executed fights scenes to the bizarre urban redneck gangsters who serve as the film’s misguided comic relief. To add insult to injury, almost every interior scene appears to have been lit by someone’s car headlights, which were apparently set on high. Even if you can get around the limp script, the piss-poor acting, and the startling abrupt scene changes, there really isn’t too here to recommend to those who aren’t in love with bad action cinema. How Harris managed to con both Leslie Nielsen and Michael J. Pollard into showing up for a few scenes is a puzzler, especially considering how insignificant both of their roles are in the grand scheme of things. However, if you adore Gregg Henry and don’t mind being confused for roughly 90% of the film, “The Patriot” might provide an evening’s worth of drunken entertainment. It currently resides in Mill Creek Entertainment’s “Explosive Cinema” collection, which you can find for next to nothing at most online retailers. If you’re feeling daring, by all means, give it a go. Just don’t mention it to Gregg Henry unless you’re ready to receive a severe beatdown.