Director – Sam Irvin, Screenplay – Lindsay James, Producer – James Shavick, Photography – Mahlon Todd Williams, Music – Peter Allen & Vince Mai, Visual Effects Supervisor – Richard Mintak, Special Effects Supervisor – Paul Benjamin, Production Design – Jennifer Kom-Tong. Production Company – Shavick Entertainment/InSight Film & Video Productions Ltd./Regent Entertainment.
Antonio Sabato, Jr. (Richard Donovan), Rae Dawn Chong (Madison Taylor), Michael Moriarty (General Dutton), Dominic Zamprogna (Hockstetter), Michael Boisvert (Lieutenant Mark Lewis), Rob LaBelle (Dr Michael Covington), Hrothgar Matthews (White House Press Secretary), Doron Gell (Guard Stevens)
In Washington D.C., Madison Taylor, an astronomer with the privately run Near Earth Asteroid Tracking Agency, tracks an asteroid on a near miss course with the Earth. However, calculations then reveal that there is another asteroid the size of Texas hidden behind it that will impact with the Earth in 24 hours’ time. Madison tries to alert the government-run Project Safe Skies program but her evidence is ridiculed and dismissed by General Dutton. She goes to Richard Donovan, a former Air Force major who developed a super-laser for deflecting asteroids and meteors but then quit after Dutton sought to turn the project to weapons use. Together they hatch a plan to break into Fort Kirk Air Force Base where the laser is and appropriate it to deflect the course of the asteroid.
Deadly Skies/Force of Impact is nominally a disaster movie. The disaster movie was a genre that began in the 1970s and featured a series of vast man-made edifices coming crashing down and being destroyed as an all-star cast made their way through the rubble while engaged in assorted melodramas. By the early 2000s, this had gravitated to a series of low-budget copies made for video, dvd and cable markets. (I have an essay on the genre here at Disaster Movies).
Deadly Skies/Force of Impact is a really low-budget film. It is so cheaply made that we don’t even get any disaster scenes. Other asteroid/meteorite collision films such as Meteor (1979), Armageddon (1998), Deep Impact (1998) and Greenland (2020) feature epic mass destruction scenes with debris striking around the world and people racing to prevent the impact or seek shelter. By contrast, this has only a handful of effects shots of the asteroid nearing the Earth and instead focuses on a plot about conducting a break-in to an Air Force base to activate the laser defence. It is less of a disaster movie than a mundane heist film.
Not to mention the improbability of the premise – like how no astronomers manage to notice a meteor the size of Texas on a near-collision course with the Earth until 24 hours before it strikes. Most orbiting astral bodies of any decent size have their trajectories mapped out years in advance so this asteroid would have to be painted black or have zero mass to not be detectable.
Antonio Sabato, Jr. is a former male model whose career has largely been based on appearing on assorted Sexiest Man Alive lists but seems limited when required to do more than project handsomeness. He certainly never quite projects much conviction as a principled scientist, nor that he believes in the technical dialogue he spouts. Rae Dawn Chong has always been a worthy performer no matter what the material she is playing in is. The one having the most fun is Michael Moriarty playing the scheming general – which is actually a part given more shadings and depths than most of the Sinister Military that appear in these films – where Moriarty adds quite a dry sense of humour to his dialogue.
One of the big mysteries of the film is that it appears to exist in two different forms – one that has a strong LGBT element and another version where all reference to such has been cut out. I ended up watching the latter without realising that two versions existed. The edited version is cut in a way that gave me cause to wonder if there ever was any gay version of the film or if the idea was just a fever dream being had by some rabid Antonio Sabato, Jr. fan. In this version, Sabato kisses Rae Dawn Chong while they are in the car and says he likes it, while in the final scene she turns up at his home and he welcomes her in, which seems to indicate an attraction between the two. It is difficult from this to imagine a gay version of the film.
On the other hand, Sam Irwin is a gay director so it is not too big a stretch to believe. With a little bit of google fu I found reviews of the film on gay sites where it is described that Sabato’s character lives with Michael Boisvert – there is even apparently a scene that makes it explicit where Sabato gets up out bed with Boisvert naked so this would seem to confirm such. It just seems bizarre – especially watching the film in 2022 amid the widespread acceptance of gay characters on screen – that the film could be cut in ways that Sabato’s sexuality could entirely change depending on which version you view.