More noise than signal

Cyber Tracker 2

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

The first Cyber Tracker was a painful cinematic experience, one so atrocious it was impossible to even laugh at it. I quite literally bugged out on hearing that this follow up existed. I tried to ignore it, but morbid curiosity compelled me to witness it. While not by any stretch good, it outright steals so many scenes from other films that it ends up being bearable.

One of the more surprising elements of the film is the degree of continuity. Rather than hit the big red reset button as can often happen in sequels, here we still have many of the same characters. The inimitable Don “The Dragon” Wilson returns in his role as Eric Phillips, a man who really ought to have traded in his first name for a sportier model by this point. After the harrowing experiences (for them and us) of the first movie, Eric has married ace journalist Connie, bought a nice big house, probably a nice saloon car and a ride-on lawnmower too for all I know. However don’t worry, he’s not been pussy-whipped into domesticity just yet, as the opening sequence proves.

While the credits roll we see Eric on a speedboat, heading into the middle of the ocean. Eventually arriving at what seems to be a floating platform / old oil rig affair, he delivers a briefcase to the supposedly threatening and villainous Rico and his band of merry thugs all rather formally dressed in suits, shades and firearms. Of course, you’ll remember that Eric Phillips is a member of the Secret Service and so this quickly turns into a bust, complete with cops cars screeching in to assault the goons guarding the building. How the cars got to the middle of the ocean is not explained, so for the sake of my sanity we’ll assume the boat turned round and went back to the shore at some point between scenes. Inside Eric does fairly well for himself, until he runs out of ammo. He manages to use his formidable chop-sockey skills to dispose of a few more rent-a-thugs, but is eventually cornered by a gun toting Rico. Outside, things the cops and the crims are both taking heavy casualties.

Things are looking grim, but hark! Rico is suddenly mown down in a hail of bullets. The wall caves in as a figure steps through, no other than one of the fearsome Cyber Trackers, this one later announced as Number 9 (a similarly returning and no less improbably named Jim Maniaci). He’s part of the good guys this time, declaring that Rico’s “miserable life force has been terminated”. It would be remiss of me not to point out that 9 is Robocop minus the helmet, but with plastic rather than metal armor, or so it seems. After a few pleasantries 9 tosses Eric a sidearm and goes off to secure the warehouse. 9 slowly stomps off down a corridor taking all manner of fire, laying into everything with his arm attached minigun. coughcoughRobocopcoughcough A note on the weaponry, the first film featured a staggering array of entirely unconvincing weapons, one of the many, many flaws in the film. Here, the weaponry any of the humans get their mitts on are entirely conventional, which makes everything a tad less ridiculous.

A scene back at home with Connie establishes that she still doesn’t trust all this cyber technology, perhaps remembering the last film or something. Eric reckons it’s saves lives, most notably his. A stalemate ensues. Connie’s working on a case involving cyber technology that’s been going missing. What could be happening to this? An arms dealer using the parts to create a secret army of rouge trackers for use in assassination missions? Well, that’s just a wild supposition, I couldn’t possibly comment at this time. The next morning, Connie is called by her cameraman Jared to remind her to get to a press conference. She doesn’t seem surprised by this but I am, seeing as Jared was blown up in the first film. Let’s assume he escaped somehow. Yes, that’s probably what happened.

Connie shows up late for the Governor’s press conference, much to Jared’s consternation. Why was she late? Was she possibly kidnapped by a notorious arms dealer and replaced with an exact replica cybernetic killing machine? Well, that’s just a wild supposition, I couldn’t possibly comment at this time. The governor is giving a long and rambling speech about taxes, so I’m rather relieved when Connie pulls a gun a shoots him. Sorry, I meant I was shocked to my core. The Cyber-Connie escapes, thanks to an army of goons running distraction on the police force present, and a mysterious brunette, Kessel (Athena Massey), who drives a remote controlled news-truck into the path of the pursing police Ford Explodalots. It seems like director Richard Pepin’s ideas to ‘top’ the first film involves making absolutely everything explodable. It works, oddly, as everything is now so over-the-top it’s amusing. This I’ll take to be intentional, as there’s enough other hints of light-heartedness such as the Cyber Trackers speeches to indicate this, again mostly stolen from Robocop.

Eric and Jared can’t believe that Connie is responsible and immediately blame the Cybertechnology bogeyman. They start to think about how to find the real Connie before Cyber Tracker 59, that the assistant governor has sent after Connie. Connie was in kidnapped the arms dealers, but they’ve made the mistake of entrusting the job of killing her off the dumbest goons in the world. To their credit, they do explain why they didn’t kill Connie straight away, which some may have been wondering about. Connie easily outsmarts them, smacks their heads in with a handy length of piping and runs off to call Eric.

They all meet up in a park just as 59 shows up. They escape in their car, with 59 pursuing in a commandeered security van, replete with puzzled guard in the back. They proceed to have a car chase down a drained canal bed. coughcoughT2coughcough After our heroes inevitable escape, 59 pulls the puzzled security guard from the back of the busted up van, apologising to the “inconvenienced citizen” and offering compensation for the emotional distress and repairs to his vehicle. I liked this, a nice little touch showing that the ‘bad guy’ is still trying to serve the public trust.

The bad guy of the piece is the notorious (apparently. No real evidence of this is forthcoming, so I’ll have to take it on trust) arms dealer Paris Morgan. He show his displeasure with a bungling oaf of a lieutenant by snapping his neck, the standard way of showing he’s a Bad Man. This established, he consults with his evil scientist Rubens about the status of his next assassin. Shockingly, this turns out to be Cyber-Don “The Dragon” Wilson. He’s sent after the local police chief, Swaine whose investigations are getting a little too close. He also happens to be Eric’s best friend, who he’s gone to for help. This results in the pair legging it from Cyber-Don as he calmly waltzes through the police station killing any cop who stands in his way. coughcoughTerminatorcoughcough Still, it does have a nice face-off between Cyber-Don and Cyber Tracker 29, ending with Cyber-Don displaying his bad-assedness by ripping off his opponents arm and knocking his head off with it.

Eventually they escape for some respite, aided in part by Connie’s old Union for Human Rights revolutionary friends from back in the first film in another shocking hint of continuity. Most notable amongst these is Trip, an explosives expert with a strange habit of sticking Mr. Potato Head parts into lumps of plastique. He lives in a church, which seems to be de riguer for terrorists, wired to blow up with explosives. This comes in handy when the inevitable assault from Cyber-Don arrives. While the rest of the gang escape by running up the same corridor over and over (I think it’s supposed to indicate it’s one long corridor, but I’m not fooled by these Jedi mind tricks), a mortally wounded Trip sits dying with detonator in hand, blowing the place up as his life expires. coughcoughT2coughcough

The gang retrieve the now-bodiless head of Cyber-Don and wire it up to try to converse with it. coughcoughAlien 3coughcough. This yields little of use, but they already have enough information to go after Morgan. Swaine has a trick up his sleeve, calling in back up in the form of our hero from earlier, Number 9. Connie, Eric and Jared bust into Morgan’s lab, 9 and Jared running interference on the majority of the guards while Connie and Eric go to the heart of the evildoers lab. Through a contrivance, they each end up paired against one of the main villains. 9 is taken by surprise by Cyber-Connie and incapacitated, but this allows Connie to freeze her cyber-counterpart with Liquid Nitrogen and shoot her head off, shattering it. coughcoughT2coughcough Jared, who I had pegged in the ‘certain to die’ category befuddles me by taking on Kessel and winning, despite a slight shooting. In retrospect, given his miraculous resurrection from the first movie this shouldn’t have surprised me.

The main event would seem to be Eric vs. a new foe called a Super Tracker, mentioned ominously throughout the film as being new and unstoppable and whatnot by Rubens. It’s a tad disappointing when he defeats him in about a minute with a powerful lab laser. Your replacement main event is Eric vs. Morgan, which quickly devolves to fisticuffs. Eric get the best of this but looks to be hoist by his own petard when cornered by Morgan and the laser. Eric is saved once again by Number 9, who seems to have re-routed power enough to pop up and shoot Morgan. coughcoughT2coughcough. They escape as the lab explodes, because that’s the way it was heading.

Watching Cyber Tracker 2 is almost like watching a homage to all previous action sci-fi, because there are so many scenes that have been stolen directly from other films and inserted into this script on a fraction of the budget. Although, they seem to have pushed the boat out for this film, as no scenes look particularly awful, indicating a reasonable amount of money has been spent on it.

The majority of the budget must have gone into the pyros. Pretty much everything explodes, whether it want to or not. Even if there’s no particular reason why a door should explode, it blows up. This is a movie that would have Michael Bay thinking, “Man, that’s a lot of explosions”. It’s all so overblown that it becomes a lot of fun after a while. If you like stuff blowing up, rest assured you’ll have to go no more than 5 minutes before something goes boom.

I was shocked to see that most of the leads have taken some time to learn to act a bit. Steve Burton’s still a little wooden as Jared, but not too reprehensible, and everyone else takes their hackneyed roles quite well. While never stopping to mug at the camera, it’s clear everyone knows this isn’t high art and doesn’t take it too seriously. This was another mis-step in the first effort, as everyone played it so straight it sucked all the life out of it, not having the skill or effects to pull off a serious approach.

Theoretically I ought to pan this for managing the unique feat of being far less original that the first, but if you’re going to nick a film outright than Alien 3, Terminator 1 & 2 and Robocop and pretty good sources. As such the script seems more replicated than written, although the dialogue is still largely poor. Nothing like as bad as the last one though. Pepin’s direction in unremarkable, but there aren’t too many ways to motivate his main character, Mr. Explosion.

I’m generally not a big thievery supporter, but imagining the horrors that could have unfolded if they’d went their own way gives me a sense of dread that shakes me to my very being. There are a few amusing moments, and the continual booms mean there’s little time for a plot to drag or get in the way of the shooting. The movie moves along fairly logically, and displays an unexpected sense of continuity both internally and with the first film, although I would have disavowed all knowledge of that travesty if I were in charge. I hope I’m not being overly influenced by the tripe I’ve witnessed during low budget movie season but this seems genuinely superior to the rest of the TV movie dross, even if it achieves this by disingenuous methods.