AFTERSHOCK is a clumsy grab-bag of post-apocalyptic action cliches and offbeat touches. Naturally, the setting is the 21st century. Because citizens have stopped questioning their leaders, civilization has collapsed. Paramilitary goons prowl the ruins, exterminating well-scrubbed
refugees and dissidents, while the voice of "Big Sister" broadcasts aphorisms like "A clean weapon is a safe weapon." Sabina (Elizabeth Kitaen) suddenly materializes in an abandoned missile site, dressed like a Vogue model and bearing some old photographs. Dragged before a brutal authority figure,
Oliver Quinn (John Saxon), she smiles vacantly at his interrogation and is held for observation. When Willie (Jay Roberts, Jr.) and Danny (Chuck Jeffries), two troublemakers who are also being held, stage a breakout, Sabina mindlessly follows them. Danny leads them to a rebel headquarters, where
freedom fighters tap into the state computer system and learn that Sabina is not as dumb as she seems. In fact, she's really a superintelligent extraterrestrial. By this point Sabina has learned enough English to haltingly explain: it seems her people intercepted a NASA space probe, and the
friendly photos it bore suggested that Earth had developed an "equitable society." Sabina has come to learn the secret of such peace and harmony for her own troubled planet. Oh well. Realizing that she can't survive on Earth, Sabina is determined to get back to the missile site to catch the next
"energy cycle" home. As Quinn's forces raid the rebel base, Willie and Sabina set out for the missile site. Alas, she falls into the clutches of a bounty-hunter (Chris De Rose), who hands her over to Quinn. Improbably, the group ends up at the missile site anyway, and after Willie uses his
martial-arts skills to dispense with the bad guys, Sabina is set to rendezvous with her probe. "Always Question," reads the rebel graffito in the final shot.
All right. Why does the superintelligent space gal behave like an imbecile even after overcoming the communications barrier? Why does Willie's character change from a smart-mouth rascal to a terse mystic? How does he dodge several point-blank bullets? What's the deal with the smoke that engulfs
him during one swordfight? Director Frank Harris doesn't provide answers to any of these questions. And the slipshod action and transitional scenes make it hard to tell who's doing what to whom. However, the film does show unexpected strength in the supporting cast, with B-movie stalwarts Saxon
and Christopher Mitchum playing roles a scintilla above the usual cartoon characters. And Jeffries makes a likable and energetic sidekick; regrettably, he disappears halfway through the tale. (Excessive violence, profanity, adult situations.)
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