This direct-to-video tale of terrorists, nuclear missiles, and a lone renegade who singlehandedly saves the day tries hard to be DIE HARD (1988) but falls far short of the mark.
Commandos storm a missile silo in the Soviet Republic of Bazrakhistan, killing everyone. The takeover is detected by Jack Gracy (Jack Scalia), a recently dismissed US secret agent who still possesses a missile tracer unit. Gracy crashes a party at the presidential palace and warns the American
ambassador that there has been a breach. His information is discredited and he is turned away.
Jack's departure from the palace is prevented by his former lover, Katherina (Ingrid Torrance), the president's daughter, who leads him to her bedroom. Jack and Katherina rekindle their passion as the president (Jan Nemejovsky) gives a speech to the assembled dignitaries below. Meanwhile, rebel
forces surround the palace and Krutov (Milan Gargula), the vice premier, announces a coup. The president and his guests, including Katherina, are held hostage.
Jack is preparing to leave Katherina's bedroom when he hears shots and discovers that the palace is under siege. He discovers that the terrorists plan to launch a nuclear missile at America and steal $50 million in US aid. When his calls to US intelligence are refused, Jack must stop the
terrorists himself. He outsmarts and overpowers the commandos, steals the launch access disc, and averts the nuclear attack on America. But the US has launched cruise missiles toward the palace, and Jack and the hostages escape with only seconds to spare.
The production's biggest asset is Scalia, who adroitly plays the handsome hero. His commanding presence and easy charm make ACT OF WAR almost watchable. Douglas H. Arthurs is suitably sinister as Sergei, the mastermind of the terrorist operation. The supporting cast is competent, with the
exception of David Nykl, who is miscast as Willmont, Gracy's greedy replacement. The character is supposed to be less effective than Gracy, but Nykl's ineffectual Willmont could never have been hired to head an international security force.
ACT OF WAR pales in comparison to DIE HARD, the 1988 blockbuster it flagrantly mimics. The formulaic script offers fleeting moments of originality, but the predictable turn of events quickly diminishes any real sense of suspense. Least plausible of the scenes are those in which members of the
White House cabinet bicker over what action to take. The actors are saddled with insipid dialogue and none display military bearing. The cat-and-mouse relationship between Jack and Sergei lacks the intelligence and chemistry of DIE HARD's Bruce Willis-Alan Rickman pairing. The action and gunplay
are standard fare. ACT OF WAR's one true note of authenticity lies in its scenery; the film was shot on location in the Czech Republic. (Violence, sexual situations, profanity.)
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