Silk Degrees

Because of the comfortable chemistry of veteran B-movie stars Marc Singer and Deborah Shelton, SILK DEGREES is an agreeable time-waster. Combining banter (as a prelude to romance) with an eye-witness murder scenario (as the impetus for victim-stalking suspense), the movie displays modest crime-thriller savvy, but never enough to move us toward the edge...read more

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Because of the comfortable chemistry of veteran B-movie stars Marc Singer and Deborah Shelton, SILK DEGREES is an agreeable time-waster. Combining banter (as a prelude to romance) with an eye-witness murder scenario (as the impetus for victim-stalking suspense), the movie displays modest

crime-thriller savvy, but never enough to move us toward the edge of our sofas.

Federal agents Baker (Marc Singer) and Johnson (Mark Hamill) eavesdrop from a surveillance van on terrorist De Grillo (Michael Des Barres), but he discovers their ruse and pitches his snitch of a mistress off the nearest balcony. As she hits the pavement, a temperamental TV star, Alex Ramsey

(Deborah Shelton), storms off the set of her hit cop show--just in time to spot the killer spotting her. Rescued from De Grillo's deadly aim by the agents, a grumbling Alex enters the Witness Protection Program and is whisked off to a remote retreat. Working from tips that De Grillo plans to bomb

the TransAmerica Building in San Francisco, federal supervisor Schultz (Charles Napier) concentrates his main forces there; Baker and Johnson, meanwhile, are demoted to serving as Alex's watchdogs. Baker is certain that De Grillo's reported mission is a planted falsehood, and deduces that his next

move will be to eliminate Alex.

Johnson lets down his guard with motel employee Nicole (Katherine Armstrong), while Alex and Baker begin a love-hate relationship. Although he already has a murderous mole in place at the Fed's safehouse, De Grillo wants to come out of hiding and hit Alex himself. De Grillo's partner Willie

(Stephen Quadros) has Chief Schultz on the payroll, but blows Schultz away after obtaining the address of Alex's hiding place. Nicole, who turns out to be Schultz's hired killer, lures agent Johnson to the lake and garrotes him. Nicole has less luck whacking Alex, who uses cop-show techniques to

shoot Nicole and flee on horseback from De Grillo, Willie, and two more "mechanics." After offing the hired goons, Alex and Baker square off with De Grillo and Willie at a nearby cavern. A wounded Baker contrives a gas fire that blows Willie away. Alex nearly topples down a shaft before Baker

wrestles De Grillo onto a transport device that hurtles him down a chasm to his death. On the set of her series, Baker lovingly watches Alex re-enact her adventures for the TV camera.

Predictability reigns here with a familiar checklist of action pic cliches: the crooked boss who circumvents the hero's best efforts, the pampered actress who matures under duress, the square-jawed hero who's too busy cleaning up the mean streets to have a personal life, etc., etc. The stale

material and obvious plot development don't do justice to a top-notch roster of direct-to-video performers. The filmmakers blow their best chance to create a real sense of urgency, failing to create a pattern of cross-cutting between the assassin's designs on Alex and the Feds' simultaneous

efforts to save her. Since these two plot elements never jell, the film is short on suspense.

On the other hand, concentrating on the romance angle pays off nicely, since the attraction-of-opposites interplay is well written and proficiently acted. Also welcome is some lightly handled satire--Alex, who likes to disparage the make-believe world of television, smartly bests her persecutors

with skills she's acquired while masquerading as a TV cop. But without any energizing tension, SILK DEGREES is no more than a run-of-the-mill thriller, somewhat redeemed by an appealing central love story. (Graphic violence, nudity, extreme profanity, substance abuse.)

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