Redline (1997)

Rating:

aka Deadline; Deathline

USA/Canada/Netherlands. 1997.

Crew

Director – Tibor Takacs, Screenplay – Tibor Takacs & Brian Irving, Producer – Irving, Photography – Zoltan David, Music – Guy Zerafa, Visual Effects – Randall William Cook, Special Effects Supervisor – Jak Osmond, Production Design – Istvan Ocztos. Production Company – Nu Image/Mondofin/1204019 Ontario Inc

Cast

Rutger Hauer (John Anderson Wade), Yvonne Scio (Marina K/Katya), Mark Dacascos (Merrick), Randall William Cook (Special Prosecutor Vanya), Michael Mehlman (Serge), Patrick Dreikauss (Mishka)


Plot

John Anderson Wade is shot and left for dead by his partner Merrick during an operation smuggling contraband into a near-future Russia. However, Wade is revived from the dead by the special police prosecutor on orders of The President. Allowed to escape, Wade heads after Merrick, who has been trying to take over Moscow’s crime syndicates, seeking revenge. As he pursues Merrick, Wade finds himself caught in games between The President, the Special Prosecutor and the crime syndicates.


Canada’s Tibor Takacs is a director of modest B-films and has in the past proven himself capable with quietly surprising with efforts like I, Madman/Hardcover (1989), The Gate (1987) and its even better sequel Gate II (1990), all of which were better than one might have expected. Subsequently, Takacs has made films such as the bizarre Nostradamus (2000) about a time-travelling occult war and the attempt to reincarnate the title character; the Christmas films Once Upon a Christmas (2000) and Twice Upon a Christmas (2001) about Santa’s daughter; and the monster movies Rats (2003), Mansquito (2005), Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep (2006), Ice Spiders (2007), Mega Snake (2007) and Spiders (2013); and a series of B-budget disaster movies with Tornado Warning (2002), Nature Unleashed: Earthquake (2004), The Black Hole (2006), NYC: Tornado Terror (2008) and Meteor Storm (2010).

Like a number of films around this period – The Russia House (1990), GoldenEye (1995), The Saint (1997) – Redline takes a post-Soviet Russia as its setting. Tibor Takacs creates an abundance of atmosphere in the milieu of a Russian Mafia-dominated underworld – journeys through bathhouses, street markets, chic nightclubs, sports clubs where naked contestants engage in combat – suggesting both at once a world of decadence and near-anarchy. The interiors, shot in cavernous, Soviet Politburo-styled buildings, add a dazzling sense of verisimilitude – even if, ironically, Redline was in fact shot in Hungary.

Set amid this are some neat science-fictional devices – flying spy satellites, virtual reality torture, advertisements for Hawaiian holiday resorts in Crimea. Although by and large, Redline does not seem that interested in its Cyberpunk background – writers like William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Jack Womack or Bruce Sterling would have had field days with this milieu. In fact, with little rewriting, the plot could have easily have worked as a standard action film without the need for any future setting.

Tibor Takacs quotes other films – the graveyard of fallen Communist statues from GoldenEye; an amusing parody of the oft-copied Odessa Steps sequence from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin (1925), recreated on a tv show called Moscow’s Deadliest Criminals. Italian actress Yvonne Scio makes a promising English-language debut as the heroine.


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