The Silencers (1996)

Silencers PosterThe first vehicle didn’t explode until about the 38 minute mark of this film which may very well have been a record for a PM Entertainment movie.

Generally, you can expect some type of freeway chase where old clunker cars, vans, and buses go flying through the air and land in a hellish firestorm of slow motion. The Silencers though bucked that trend, instead opting for a prologue involving a cow being abducted by aliens back in the 1960s. I think as far as scenes starring cows flying through the air it was probably a close second to that one in Twister.

The Silencers wasn’t a disappointment though because we had to see bovines stolen by evil aliens who then threatened the grieving farm wife (no, she wasn’t particularly attached to the cow, her husband had also been killed during the attack) instead of tanned Secret Service stud Rafferty (Jack Scalia) playing demolition derby on the Pacific Coast Highway. Scalia got in plenty of his brand of protection (he kills all the aliens after they kill the Senator he was supposed to be protecting) later on in the film.

It was the script’s insistence on gumming up the works with dorky aliens (both an good and bad), goofy UFO enthusiasts who suddenly turn into freaking Delta Force when needed, and an alien invasion story that seemed designed to unfold so slowly and with as much complication as possible that Rafferty would have had to have been dead to not thwart.

Bad aliens (their eyes are completely black) come to Earth, convince the U.S. government to work with them on building a Stargate (I mean gateway) which will allow travel between distant areas of space and Earth. The government wants to harness the technology for their own purposes while the bad aliens are just using it as a means to send through an invasion force so they can take over Earth. During the first test of the gateway, a good alien manages to get through ahead of the invasion force and the gateway blows its transmission and has to go back into the shop for repairs.

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The good alien (Comdor) has been sent to destroy the gateway, but as he explains to an incredulous Rafferty, his people believe in non-interference which is why they only sent one guy to interfere, instead of a whole army. As unconvincing as that explanation is, at least it’s an explanation. The movie doesn’t bother to explain much else that goes on.

For instance, there is a big chase scene where the aliens are trying to kill a senator and only at the very end of it, after the senator has been killed does the alien use his debilitating sonic scream to incapacitate Rafferty. Why not just use it on the Senator in the first place and then kill him when he’s knocked out from the scream?

Making even less sense and proving that though you may be smart enough to come through an intergalactic gateway, you still don’t know stink about being an evil genius or how to use nefarious tactics to accomplish your goals, the bad aliens make the infiltration of a Senate sub-committee a million light years harder than it had to be.

Putting aside the wisdom of having a Senate subcommittee involved in your straight-to-video action movie, the aliens spend all this time plotting to kill the Senator who is in charge of it so they can take it over and get money appropriated for the gateway. Yet once the senator is dead and the alien takes his place, he just shows them his icky black eyes to get everyone to vote his own way.

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Couldn’t he have done that without having to replace the guy? And even if he couldn’t, why didn’t the aliens come up with a better plan to kill the senator then trying to assassinate him at a church and throughout all of downtown Los Angeles? You’ve got people on the inside so how tough would it be to have the guy “slip” in the shower at the Senate gym?

Most of the stuff that didn’t involve Rafferty driving a big rig with the good alien inside, or having to do with Rafferty shooting everyone he could find during the periodic outbreaks of alien attacks, was pretty half-hearted.

Rafferty’s personal life is so mundane and not essential to the plot (he is divorced, but still loves his wife, and he worries that he doesn’t spend enough time with his kid) that it should have been ditched entirely to speed up the sometimes sluggish pace of the movie. At least in Scalia’s other alien invasion movie he made with director Richard Pepin (Dark Breed), his wife was a fellow astronaut who was possessed by an alien! And why is he stopping by their house with the good alien while he is on the run from the murderous aliens? Don’t you have more pressing matters than mooning over your ex-wife?

Rafferty’s tepid soap opera of a home life aside, the movie also needlessly has him getting help from these crackpot people who work at a UFO magazine. It’s a horrible twist on the nosy reporter, and the idea that a guy as deadly serious as Rafferty would ever turn to these whackos for help is preposterous.

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Even more preposterous is at the end of the movie when it’s time for Rafferty to attack the gateway, the UFO folks show up with all the C4 explosives and guns that Rafferty will need to complete his mission! I guess they sell that stuff at the UFO convention the movie forced us to attend earlier.

Like the best of the PM Entertainment projects such as Cyber-Tracker 2 and Rage, there’s plenty of chasing, shooting, and blowing up of stuff going on here. All the babble with generals and senators though only serves to bring the action to a thudding halt.

Scalia brings the expected swaggering authority to things, but the aliens he’s up against are wimpy-looking nerds. I figured I could be their skinny asses, so I wasn’t real interested in seeing just how Scalia was going to handle things.

It’s like The Silencers is Dark Breed’s evil twin of a movie where all the good stuff wasn’t quite as good (the big rig chase here is not nearly as exciting as when Scalia rode around on a satellite dish in Dark Breed) and the potentially stupid stuff (alien invasion story, hero’s personal life, alien team-up angle) unfortunately realizes its full potential.

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