A rather dull piece of cheese, the cinematic equivalent of a bland chunk of mass-market Colby, 2103: The Deadly Wake did manage to accomplish one remarkable feat that should provide food for thought for all true movie buffs.
It wasn’t the fact that despite being set in the future on a futuristic ship where a fetus in a tube full of green liquid operated all sorts important ship functions that the captain still had to use a steering wheel to make left turns and such. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t have the scene in all great future boat movies where the crazy captain has to use a rope to tie the steering wheel in place while he went and did something crazy somewhere else. That’s precisely the sort of thing we want in our movies about ugly brown ships floating around aimlessly while shot through a headache-inducing ocher filter for no reason.
No, what will stay with you long after you’ve given up trying to figure out just what the heck was actually happening in the movie is that while the film starred British film icon Malcolm McDowell, you actually felt more embarrassed for erstwhile Eddie And The Cruisers star Michael Paré!
Malcolm is of course known for legendary efforts such as A Clockwork Orange, If…, and some Star Trek movie no one remembers. And while you’d like to think he was some kind of 1990s version of Richard Burton picking up a million bucks for playing the boozy and surly skipper of the doomed tub, it’s clear that there wasn’t a million bucks to spend on the whole movie, let alone on Malcolm. Still, it wasn’t Malcolm I was experiencing vicarious humiliation through.
Paré easily fares the worse of the two here. While he may be used to appearing in films with titles like Strip Search, Gargoyle, and Komodo vs. Cobra his role as Tarkis, the head of security on the boat, is so nondescript that any hairless ape could have been poured into the beyond ugly brown uniform to do it.
The few meager attempts to give Paré’s character something to do are so cringeworthy that I hoped Paré told his family that another movie took longer than planned to shoot and that he just never mentioned this one to them at all.
The scene where his boss/girlfriend waves around some sort of ring that presumably was to go around his dingleberry while he was on the voyage without her made me throw up more than any of those animal slaughter scenes you get regularly dosed with in an Italian cannibal movie.
Even more nauseating on the “whipped boyfriend” front was that much of Paré’s scenes involved him calling his girlfriend to ask her what was going on and to whine about how things were going down the crapper while ignoring the mountain of evidence that his old lady probably wasn’t interested in a long-term relationship.
But maybe I’m reading too much into the fact that she had the ship laden with explosives while it was simultaneously transporting some mega deadly bio fart juice that reacts with sea water and will cause the entire planet to go tits up to the moon. There are those couples that follow a pattern of intense love and hate, constantly making up with one another when not trying to use their significant other to precipitate the end of the world.
While Paré is forced to play the retarded dupe for much of the movie, Malcolm at least has the ability to chew scenery to slap the viewer awake every so often. Malcolm is awesome in this because his sea captain is exactly the sort of sea captain I love.
Like I need to have my cops play by their own rules and be on suspension, need to have my football coaches getting one last shot at a title and redemption, and my kickboxers to be haunted by the slaughter of their families, I need to have my sea captains be grizzled old drunks wrongfully run out of the sailing biz by trumped up charges of sinking their own ships!
It’s like Malcolm is a combination of all great movie heroes! He’s on suspension, needs redemption, and is haunted by his past! And when he puts his futuristic tanker on combat status, you can damn sure bet that that’s playing by his own rules! Okay, he does babble a bit about the Law of the Sea allowing him to do so, but I’m fairly sure that was just the cheap hooch talking!
The story behind all of this is a mish-mash of confusing futuristic problems that will probably never come to pass. The business that owns the boat Malcolm is piloting is in the process of being granted nation status by the U.N. I guess they’re trying to get rid of all this crappy plague gas they have without anyone knowing it, so they plan on sinking Malcolm’s boat with the ability to blame him since he was already blamed for an earlier wreck.
That’s a great plan except that no one seems to worry about what happens when everyone asks the corporation why they hired Malcolm in the first place since he can’t legally work anymore. Well, that and sinking the boat will destroy the planet.
And for those of you trying to decide whether the scheme to sink the boat or the First Mate fetus is the most stupefying idea in the movie, I would also nominate the totally pointless element that the crew are all prisoners! This had no bearing on anything in the movie since they didn’t do anything but stand around scowling at their guards and stacking barrels of toxic waste.
Frankly, the prison-ship aspect of things probably only existed so that the killer cyborg running around loose in annoying slow motion, using what looked like ballet moves, had more people to kill.
This cyborg is a chick dressed up in a leather outfit with a ridiculous helmet that made you pity the poor bastard who must have been sweating to death underneath it all. This is a future gone mad though, so that wasn’t the worst of it.
2103: The Deadly Wake does what all the greats do and saves the deadliest wake for last! After Paré again is owned by failing to burn up the cyborg despite calling it a bitch twice and throwing a lit cigarette at it in dramatic fashion, it’s up to the mysteriously super-powered broad that is also on board to defeat the death machine in a battle of badly-animated multicolored beams of light!
None of it was explained and really, no explanation was necessary! It’s obvious that in the future, all sea-going vessels will come equipped with one fetus, one killer cyborg, and one magic chick.
And when you break it down that way, can you fault Malcolm for thinking that he could very well be working with the next Stanley Kubrick? And can you fault the viewer for binging on seasick pills before boarding 2103: The Deadly Wake?
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