In the direct-to-video marketplace, 1996 was a banner year for man-made virus outbreaks and anti-government, ex-military terrorists. In WARHEAD, a former Pentagon agent heads the UPN, a rabid militia bent on forcing the US president's resignation.
Although ace operative Tannen (Frank Zagarino) stages a Waco-like raid on the stockpiled fortress of messianic General Kraft (Joe Lara), Tannen's commando mission doesn't put a dent in Kraft's master plan. With the cooperation of turncoat scientist Dr. Evans (Michael McCabe), who is kidnapped from
protective custody on an army plane, Kraft can access missile codes triggering warheads at two farm-belt silos.
Due to the forked tongue of presidential advisor Lansdale (Todd Jensen), Tannen feels he cannot derail Kraft's scheme to extort millions and force the president to step down. Lansdale tips off Kraft, who ambushes Tannen's search-and-destroy mission in Haiti. What Lansdale fails to realize is that
madman Kraft places a higher priority on his political goal than on the monetary one. Kraft wants to control the Commander-in-Chief.
Disgusted with the casualties in Haiti and with the shilly-shallying of his mentor, General Edwards (Brian O'Shaughnessy), Tannen resigns, only to be coaxed into an active anti-Kraft role by electronics whiz Jessica Evans (Elizabeth Giordano), daughter of Dr. Evans.
Showing he means business, Kraft launches one missile into the desert before aiming the second at Washington, DC. Infiltrating Kraft's headquarters, Tannen battles UPN forces while Jessica circumvents her father's warhead code control. After Dr. Evans stops a bullet meant for his daughter, Tannen
breaks Kraft's neck.
Aborting the warhead's instructions, Jessica and Tannen barely escape the missile mini-base as the nuclear weapon self-destructs and obliterates the surrounding area. Set up to die twice by the conniving Lansdale, Tannen finds him in Switzerland and traps him in a car rigged with explosives.
WARHEAD would be typical boys-will-be-boys escapism were it not for the screenplay's murmurs of vigilantism. The filmmakers express a grudging respect not for terrorism but for the basic soundness of General Kraft's distaste for a liberal government.
Ignoring these super-patriotic tinges, audiences are stuck with the usual action formulas, slack patches of verbiage, and buddy-buddy camaraderie interspersed with deafening explosions and bone-crunching kickboxing. Those who expect intelligence or elan in their nuclear countdown thrillers will be
annoyed by the flick's static direction, repetitive exposition, and egregiously bad acting. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, adult situations.)
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