Expatriate German actor Jurgen Prochnow may have been wishing he were back on DAS BOOT. In KILL CRUISE, a queasily entertaining seagoing suspense thriller, he plays a character known only as "Skipper," but this ain't "Gilligan's Island."
What little viewers need to know about Skipper is etched in during a brief prologue. His sailing yacht, the "Bella Donna," is being tossed in a stormy sea off Gibraltar while his best friend--and the man who was about to take his wife away from him--is drowning overboard. Still on deck, Skipper
clearly wishes he could help, but he cannot. Authorities clear him of responsibility, but his wife, Mona, doesn't and leaves him. Retiring to his favorite bar, the California Club, Skipper orders a drink and bitterly declares that he'll set sail the next day. "After all, why stay," he grumbles.
Six months later, he's still muttering the same thing; it's now an act, and Skipper has become a local joke. Two hookers with dubious musical ambitions enter the bar and sing a song. Afterward one of them, Lou (Elizabeth Hurley) performs a striptease while the other, Su (Patsy Kensit), takes a
seat at a table. Lou beckons Skipper over to the stage and asks him to collect tips for her. He does, and later the three retire to his yacht for an evening of carnal delights.
The next day, the hungover Skipper discovers to his horror that he's promised Su and Lou a trip to Barbados. At first he demurs, but after being taunted by the owner of the California Club, he decides to do it on a whim. To many men, being on a yacht alone with two beautiful women of loose virtue
would be a dream come true. But the Skipper is a seasoned sailor, wise enough to know that three strangers in a boat on the open sea for the four weeks it takes to reach Barbados can have unpredictable, perhaps even deadly, results. Before too long, his worst fears seem to be coming true.
To give away much more of the plot of KILL CRUISE would be to give away most of the reason for seeing it. Writer-director Peter Keglevic has pretensions to Polanski and Hitchcock in this KNIFE IN THE WATER with a PSYCHO windup. But the ending becomes obvious once one realizes that only two of the
three characters reveal much of themselves as the film goes on. Despite that, however, Keglevic gets more than halfway to his goal, cleverly playing on our expectations and playing with what we know and, especially, what we think we know about who's doing what with whom and to whom.
The suspense hinges largely on Skipper's enigmatic character, nicely sustained by Prochnow's tight-lipped performance. Is his growing unease justified by his sea experience? Or have the wounds he still nurses over his broken marriage made him an embittered misogynist? Or is he, as one of the
ladies declares, simply crazy? Whatever the reason, despite the carnal possibilities, he retires chastely to his quarters each night to record in his log his dark premonitions of trouble to come.
Keglevic orchestrates the moods of this elemental drama with devious precision from a slight unease, to a gnawing tension, to pure panic, to a quiet--too quiet, of course--resolution before he unleashes his final, decisive bit of Grand Guignol just when you thought it was safe to go back up on
deck again. Even to comment on the lead performances would be to risk giving away too much. However, the three stars play Keglevic's exercise in cinematic sleight of hand for all it's worth.
Since coming to international prominence in DAS BOOT, Prochnow (DUNE, THE SEVENTH SIGN) has had problems finding his niche, but here he's marvelously assured; one of the film's best incidental pleasures is simply watching him perform the multitude of minute tasks it takes to make a yacht sail.
Even so, KILL CRUISE will make you think long and hard the next time someone invites you for that seagoing vacation you've always dreamed of. (Violence, profanity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Expatriate German actor Jurgen Prochnow may have been wishing he were back on DAS BOOT. In KILL CRUISE, a queasily entertaining seagoing suspense thriller, he plays a character known only as "Skipper," but this ain't "Gilligan's Island." What little viewe… (more)