With Asian action films gaining increasing notice in the United States, a number of domestic filmmakers have announced plans to integrate the exhilarating Hong Kong style into their movies. If TIME BOMB is any indication, Israeli Avi Nesher is one director who already shares the Asian
Eddy Kay (Michael Biehn) is a mild-mannered watchmaker living a quiet, uneventful life in Los Angeles. But he has a secret past, one that comes to the fore when a gas-main explosion across the street from his shop inspires him to an act of uncommon bravery, rushing into the blazing building to
rescue a child. It's a feat that is totally unlike him, and as if the incident wasn't disconcerting enough, he begins to have strange, split-second hallucinations of images of sex and violence. Shortly after his face turns up on TV as a result of the incident, Eddy is attacked in his apartment by
a black-clad man who seems intent on killing him; calling on heretofore untapped fighting skills, Eddy defeats his attacker, but is unable to convince investigating Detective Sanchez (Raymond St. Jacques) that the intruder's motive was deadlier than mere robbery.
At the same time, Eddy has been visiting Dr. Anna Nolmar (Patsy Kensit), a young psychiatrist who is one of his customers and is unable to find a plausible explanation for his strange visions. But the attempts on Eddy's life don't stop, with a group of assassins assaulting him on the street and
in a parking garage. Growing increasingly desperate, Eddy takes Dr. Nolmar hostage as the two flee from one violent confrontation to another.
The band of killers intent on wiping out Eddy turn out to be under the control of Colonel Taylor (Richard Jordan), a renegade CIA operative who once conducted secret experiments on Vietnam soldiers. Deep in a laboratory in the Southwest, Taylor had his subjects brainwashed and exposed to repeated
images of death and sexuality, programming them into cold, ruthless killers. Eddy was one of these subjects who never became completely transformed; his identity was changed and he's repressed all memory of his involvement--until now.
The recurring flashbacks drive him to journey to the abandoned lab, where he and Dr. Nolmar discover the truth about his past. With the full knowledge of who he really is, Eddy must now race back to L.A., where Taylor's assassins are preparing to kill a politician who wants to cut back on the
CIA's influence. After shootouts and a final rooftop fight with one of the killers, Eddy is able to put a stop to Taylor's plans.
The fight scenes in TIME BOMB are exhilaratingly quick and brutal, with lightning-fast martial-arts moves and, pardon the expression, no punches pulled. Instead of just taking turns socking each other in the face, the participants throw each other across rooms, into walls and breakaway furniture,
often in closeup without evident use of stunt doubles. Director Nesher also proves more than adept at stalk-and-gunfight setpieces, and one such sequence set in a porno theater is especially exciting.
Nesher's screenplay hangs the action on a Hitchcockian paranoia story wtih science-fiction overtones, and it's a disappointment that this plot is less compelling than the mayhem it surrounds. The resolution of the mystery is not especially surprising, what with its government conspiracy,
brainwashing plot and man-who-knows-too-much chase scenario, though Nesher does his best to keep the story moving fast enough to keep the audience from noticing. Evidently lacking the financial resources to create big-scale action setpieces, Nesher conducts the pursuit at a fast pace; too fast, in
fact, because any chance at developing the characters gets lost as they are rushed from place to place. It's also a little puzzling that Eddy can constantly outwit and outfight an entire squad of killers whose skills are more developed than his, but then the action is handled so well that one
Helping matters are good, direct performances, with Biehn (THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, THE ABYSS) well-cast as the frantic hero; he manages to seem like an everyman throughout, even as he's displaying his great proficiency in the fight scenes. When the movie gets to the desert lab, there's a nifty,
extended flashback/nightmare scene that explains how Eddy got the way he is, though the story eventually falls back into the conventional for its climactic action. Nonetheless, there's plenty in TIME BOMB to suggest that with a better script and bigger budget, Nesher may well be a director to
watch. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: With Asian action films gaining increasing notice in the United States, a number of domestic filmmakers have announced plans to integrate the exhilarating Hong Kong style into their movies. If TIME BOMB is any indication, Israeli Avi Nesher is one director… (more)