Hostile Intent (1997)

Rating:

Canada. 1997.

Crew

Director – Jonathan Heap, Screenplay – Manny Coto, Producer – Julian Grant, Photography – Gerald R. Goozee, Music – Christophe Beck, Computer Animation – Coherent Light, Special Effects Supervisor – Brock Jolliffe, Production Design – John Gillespie. Production Company – Le Monde Entertainment/Chesler-Perlmutter Productions

Cast

Rob Lowe (Mike Cleary), John Savage (John ‘Bear’ Bowerington), Gerry Quigley (Billy Bunnel), James Kidnie (Adams), Sofia Shinas (Gina), Ronn Sarosiak (Gordon), Saul Rubinek (Kendall), Christopher Kennedy (Whitt), Marlon Brand (Harry Wexler), Louis Del Grande (Bob Soames), Sean Sullivan (Charlie), Rino Romano (Press), Simon Reynolds (Crowther), Jody Racicot (Rawlins)


Plot

Computer genius Mike Cleary and his team are working on Guardian, an innovation that will revolutionise the computer industry. Mike is also under financial pressure and threat of theft by hackers as the project nears completion. He and his team go away for a weekend in the woods to play a paintball war game simulation. However, as the game gets underway, someone starts eliminating the group with guns armed with real bullets. Cleary and the others are unable to decide if they are being hunted by hostile rednecks or by industrial espionage experts wanting to steal their secrets.


Hostile Intent is an oddity. For some time in, you are not sure what type of film you have sat down to watch at all. The opening, for instance, offers a written narration that talks about the Clipper Chip (the defunct 1990s concept of a surveillance chip touted by the US government), mentions the number of computers in the USA, the existence of 60 million users and their dependence on computers, all of which seems to be setting up the hoary old computer conspiracy/takeover themes. Continuing on in this vein, the very first scene of the film has a start-up crew trying to stop a hostile intruder from hacking into their system. While one settles in getting ready for a computer paranoia or hi-tech hacker thriller, the least you expect is for Hostile Intent to turn into a variant on Deliverance (1972).

What Hostile Intent emerges as is nothing at all to do with computer takeover conspiracies, hackers or hi-tech thrillers but a good old wilderness survival/backwoods brutality film along the likes of Deliverance and the body of films that copied it. The film taps into the standard wilderness survival clichés of Deliverance – indeed, the suspenseful scene where Sofia Shinas ascends a cliff face while being shot at is strongly reminiscent of Jon Voight’s Herculean climb in Deliverance. Although rather than Deliverance, Hostile Intent taps more into the vein of films such as TAG: The Assassination Game (1982) and even more so Southern Comfort (1981) and Survival Quest (1988) in which pretend killing games/wilderness survival treks suddenly turn deadly serious as the unarmed trampers find themselves being hunted by a vengeful enemy. The film also happily inverts the clichés of Deliverance – here hillbillies turn up and are suspected but eventually turn out not to be the real killers after all.

Under director Jonathan Heap, Hostile Intent is fast moving, suspenseful and maintains a number of modest surprises. The action is credibly maintained – the cliff-scaling set-piece being one of the better sustained pieces. The brooding tight-lipped John Savage is somewhat miscast playing a backwoods redneck.



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