Eclipse" offers an extremely clever premise: an elite task force of police
officers who literally hunt criminals. Oh, and they happen to be werewolves to
boot. Although slick and entertaining, it's too bad "Full Eclipse" is never able
to live up to its innovative concept and become a superior werewolf movie.
The movie follows Max Dire (Mario Van
Peeples), a police officer whose life has become perplexing as of late. His
partner is shot and grievously injured, but is soon seen chasing after crooks
like Spider-man on amphetamines. Then the partner commits suicide and his home
is found to be full of reference material on werewolves. How did he recover so
miraculously, and why did he suddenly wish to end his life when he was
considering marriage and retirement?
Max is soon approached by Detective Garou (Bruce Payne), who offers him a place
on his team of renegade cops. The team, it turns out, has a secret: they inject
themselves with a werewolf serum that gives them the superhuman strength needed
to eradicate the bad guys. But Dire's conscience kicks in, and he comes to
oppose Garou and his methods. Unfortunately he has his work cut out for him,
since Garou is an extremely old and powerful werewolf, and during a full
eclipse, he's invincible.
Bruce Payne ("Highlander:
Endgame") is masterful as Detective Garou, a seductive and evil villain with
arrogance and confidence to spare. When he's onscreen, Payne demands the
attention of the audience, and you're hard pressed to resist his performance.
Payne is also the perfect adversary, the kind you're supposed to hate, but who
has the charisma to draw you in nonetheless.
The rest of the cast doesn't perform nearly as well. Patsy Kensit ("Lethal
Weapon 2") under performs, allowing herself to be simply a love interest and
feral eye candy. Even her death scene, which should be the character's most
memorable scene, is muted and easy to dismiss. Mario Van Peebles ("Ali")
is passable as an action hero, and he certainly has the physical ability to
handle his part as well as the determined energy to take Garou on. The problem
is that he's dwarfed by Garou whenever they share the screen together.
The werewolf makeup by Jim Beinke is well done, making the
transformed cops look like supernatural killers thirsting for blood. Beinke does
an equally good job with the outfits, which seem functional and looks cool at
the same time. Thanks to his efforts, the werewolves not only dress for success,
but could scare even the most hardened criminals straight.
Director Anthony Hickox ("Federal
Protection") deftly mixes horror with action, melding the supernatural with
what seems like outtakes from a John Woo film. His action scenes are filled with
unbridled carnage and gunplay, but he never loses sight of the monster origins
of the film. Hickox does everything humanly possible to make "Full Eclipse"
better than it actually is. He nearly succeeds, too, and should be given a lot
of credit for trying.
The problem is the script by
Richard Matheson and Michael Reeves. They give us a great idea, but
sabotage the effort with gaping plot holes, unresolved moral issues, and
an unsatisfying ending that doesn't fit with what has come before. It's
as if they felt the idea itself would carry the picture, and just didn't
pay attention to the script's actual execution.
"Full Eclipse" is a good film, but it has the makings of a terrific
horror/thriller. It's a movie with great potential, but unfortunately it
never bothers to live up to it. "Full Eclipse" originally debuted on
cable, and the unrated version restores 4 minutes that the producers
obviously felt cable viewers were too delicate too see. In the end it
doesn't matter much, except to make you wish there were just a little
bit more effort put forth.