Stillborn in conception and moribund in execution, this dismal android odyssey fails to live up to its title by rising from the ashes of its own cliches.
Reports of insurrectionist behavior among replicants on the mining colony Titus 4 alarm the Rydel Corporation's Board of Directors. Employed to mine the precious ore Diridium, these artificials have been acquiring such human characteristics as pig-headedness, and go on strike. Rydel CEO Kilgore
(Billy Drago) compels his second-in-command, Reiger (Brad Dourif), to take care of the situation.
Reiger hires a jailed former crony, Tyler McClain (Stephen Nichols), and his unconventional crew: Dillon (Peter Murnik), Barker (Robert Gossett), and Chin (Betsy Soo). Soon after they arrive at Titus 4, the clean-up quartet learns from rebel android Miro (William Sanderson) that Kilgore plans to
sabotage his own replicants and replace them with a more violent brand. His goal is to corner the world's Diridium market after forcing his own associates out of the competitive loop.
Reiger rigs the mining perimeters with enough explosives to wipe out evidence of Kilgore's plot. Snooping around a Rydel lab while recovering from a gunshot wound, Tyler discovers sadistic experimentation techniques that would give Kilgore an unstoppable army of killer androids.
Teaming up with Miro's forces, Tyler not only learns that he has been betrayed by Seline (Denice Duff), the woman he loves, but that he, too, is a replicant. The ranks of human and artificial life-forms are thinned as Barker, Reiger, and Miro take direct hits. After Seline's last-ditch act of
decency costs her her life, Tyler shoots Kilgore, and his mad plan for a super army dies with him. Surviving humans and robots now coexist peacefully.
Substandard from start to finish, PHOENIX unreels like a textbook example of uncommitted movie-making. It's as if cast and crew were under threat of death not to veer from formula: one can practically feel them towing the mark just to collect their paychecks. Despite an adequate budget for its
purposes, the professionalism is stifling, and a good time is had by none. The subject of revolt-bound robots has grown hoary in the direct-to-video marketplace; philosophical musings about mankind and copycat android-people were more succinctly and lucidly handled on 1960s "Twilight Zone"
episodes. Never actively terrible, and painless to sit through, PHOENIX simply doesn't provide enough of anything to make it worth a genre buff's time. (Graphic violence, nudity, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Stillborn in conception and moribund in execution, this dismal android odyssey fails to live up to its title by rising from the ashes of its own cliches. Reports of insurrectionist behavior among replicants on the mining colony Titus 4 alarm the Rydel Cor… (more)