Biehn Season, Vol. 1: 1. Timebomb (1991)

Director: Avi Nesher

Starring: Michael Biehn, Patsy Kensit, Richard Jordan

Welcome to the Biehn Season, Volume 1 trilogy where I shall pick three classics starring the mighty Michael Biehn. My intention is to tactically swerve around the bigger titles and focus on ‘those we do not speak of’. Of course, me and ‘intention’ rarely share a hammock…

The Biehn. Nothing but love for the bloke. But Jesus H. Christ in a camouflaged jeep, has he fetched up in some dreck or what. Now and again though, he lands a winner – usually anything bunged forth by James Cameron (Avatar 2 needs The Biehn, Jim!). What I did is throw a few random titles into a hat and drew 3. Reckon things could get ugly. Meanwhile, out of Trap 1 flies – Timebomb

Eddy Kay (Biehn) is a nice guy. His niceness transcends nice and dips a big toe into the warm burbling stream of nice-magasmic. He bicycles to and from work, mends watches, helps neighbours with the gardening, doth rescue babies from burning buildings… There simply isn’t anyone nicer on the planet than Eddy Kay. However, Eddy’s singe-worthy exploits come to the attention of slimy Colonel Taylor (Richard Jordan) who, while engaging in a spot of phone wank fantasy – uh-huh – clocks our boy on the TV news. Seems Eddy’s got a past about to catch up with him. No, this isn’t a dry-run for A History Of Violence. Taylor is up to some nefarious cloak and daggery and Eddy could pose a problem, a problem that ought to be eliminated. Permanently. It isn’t long before he’s being peppered from all directions by super-human assassins (well, maybe not super-human but they’ve got big guns). Also, sudden violent flashbacks drive Eddy to seek professional help from a shrink, Anna Nolmar (Patsy Kensit). And from here Timebomb turns into a stalk & chase exercise as Eddy and Anna dodge a constant hail of bullets while they search for his shady past and try to uncover the dastardly plan Taylor is about to hatch.

There’s a good movie trying to boot its way out of Timebomb but despite some impressive firepower, director Nesher just can’t raise the film above mediocre. He’s aiming for the relentless rhythm of The Terminator, even Biehn latches onto this and launches into Kyle Reese mode after a while. He starts off Sarah Connor-style, pedalling around in blissful ignorance but then ‘Kyle’ kicks in when he arbitrarily decides Anna is setting him up and abducts her in a car, getting all intense and shouty in the process. There’s one really funny, probably unintentional moment when they’re holed up at a motel and Eddy suffers one of his flashes. Anna runs past him to escape but he makes a grab for her leg and the tumbling Kensit cracks her head on the door – ‘tis a fair old wallop! Continuing The Terminator motif, the assassins could just as easily be of cyborg origin, thoughtless killing automatons as they are. They’re all named after colours too, beating Reservoir Dogs by a couple of years. What have you got to say about that, Quentin? Oh, yeh – even Second Street Tunnel makes an appearance (although to be fair it’s been used quite a lot in films).

Timebomb goes at a lightning pace once Eddy has finished spreading a vast acreage of nice around the neighbourhood, but because the film is so stodgily staged it’s impossible to get swept along with the action. Cliché-ridden dialogue doesn’t help matters. The movie lets you know what you’re in for early on when Anna hands Eddy her card (she’s brought a watch in to his shop to be fixed) – “Doctor Anna?” He says, emphasising her profession. Then… “You’re a doctor?” Errr… no, Eddy, she’s a fuckin bricklayer. But this IS an action movie. So, you do get a decent underground car park shootout and despite hand guns that sound like cannons going off, Anna doesn’t hear a bloody thing (no wonder Eddy suspects she’s one of ‘em). Then there’s a calculated hospital invasion where the assassins start mowing down innocent staff. Luckily, our Eddy is more than a match and these so-called hard cases run away like a right bunch of wet ends. Best of all is a fairly taut gun battle in a sleazy porn dive, the heavy huffing on the soundtrack interspersed with deafening weapons fire while behind everyone on the big screen is a girl juggling her tits ineffectively. Honestly, it’s a shite skin flick, any self-respecting pervert would be hollering for a refund.

Ms Blue (Tracey Scoggins) is the pick of the killers – though Mr Brown (Billy Blanks) is a worthy aggressor too. She’s got a merciless look about her, you ain’t talking your way out of trouble with this one and it’s a travesty that she’s not Eddy’s rooftop ruffian facing off at the end. There’s a brutal scene when Ms Blue and Mr Brown track Eddy and Anna to a hotel room. After a bit of fisticuffs, Eddy manages to wrap a sheet around Brown’s head and twats him in the face repeatedly with his elbow (but clearly pulling the hits). Then there’s quite a clever bit when he’s after extracting information out of Blue. I say ‘clever’, that’s if Nesher meant it. See, previously, Anna offers a bottle of Evian water to Eddy saying, Studies prove it will help you live longer…” In the hotel room, Eddy uses the empty bottle as a silencer and shoots Ms Blue in the leg! Cheers. Information extracted, Ms Blue gets to live longer!

How does The Biehn do? Well, he turns up and makes the best of what’s there. With my film head on I’d say that Nesher should’ve cast someone other than Biehn, because it’s just too close to The Terminator. I like Eddy’s arc; he doesn’t turn into a highly trained assassin during his first scrap (like Arnie does in Total Recall), he bumbles around, clouts the would-be hitman with an iron. He’s not confident, displays vulnerability – like when he takes a shower with a pair of pruning shears in hand. But as the movie progresses his reactions improve and become instinctive as the implanted training comes to the fore.

Of course he is hamstrung by that thespian behemoth Patsy Kensit – she’s no Sarah Connor. To be fair she’s not shit here and they do strike up a rapport, but she’s got zero screen presence. The sex scene is an ugly thing to behold, replete with improper music while they embark on a sweaty humping frenzy. There’s something spectacularly unsexy about Kensit lunging toward camera, with a gib depicting either the throes of ecstasy or she’s trying to pass a loaf-sized Soreen. She does get another unintentional laugh; they’ve just discovered a hidden lab where Eddy was brainwashed/ trained and he climbs into a body-shaped cocoon-type thing, his memories now returning. Anna starts pissing around in the control room, pressing buttons, shoving levers – no idea why, it’s not like she’s qualified – and this inadvertently sets the machine off brainwashing him again! Pillock. Actually, no it doesn’t, they don’t go anywhere with the scene after that. Eddy finally understands he’s the same as the people chasing him; a stone-cold killer, whereupon he slaughters Anna. Heh… now that would’ve been a twist, but he does remember his real name. He’s not Eddy Kay at all – his name is Jason Bourne…

Nah, pulling yer leg. But, what with the Bourne series, A History Of Violence, Reservoir Dogs, then you’ve got the brainwashing capsule that fills with gunk – Wolverine and his adamantium thingy… Seriously, I think Timebomb has been an inspiration to many! Elsewhere in the cast, Richard Jordan, who I like as an actor, is on auto-pilot, stuck with unimaginative lines like – “See you in Hell.” I mean it’s his pay-off line and that’s the best they could come up with? And poor Robert Culp, who you are genuinely pleased to see when he shows up, is shamefully underused. Oddly, on some posters he gets top billing – his screen time is something like 10 minutes out of 90!

So, this being my first viewing of the movie since 1992/ 93, it didn’t quite make me sneer – “Timebomb? More like Shitbomb” this go around. Overall though, flatly directed and uninvolving, but with a couple of decent set-pieces. Booze will help.

Trailer here:

Cheers, folk.

ThereWolf, November 2010.

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About ThereWolf

I only come out at night... mostly...

47 responses to “Biehn Season, Vol. 1: 1. Timebomb (1991)”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    I remember this movie and I remember just how goofy it is, nice write up Wolfe.

    Poor Micheal Biehn you shouldn’ve been a bigger star then you are.

  2. ThereWolf says :

    Cheers, Xi.

    He shoulda been a contender… I remember all the talk about him being cast as Spiderman in the… think it was late 1980’s in what would’ve been a Cameron film. Seemed like The Biehn was about to have lift-off.

    The film got tied up in knots, ditched – and Biehn’s big moment never arrived. Unlucky.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Poor Mike he was one of the paramount action stars in the late 80’s along with the Austrian Oak, Rocky and the former husband of Demi Moore. Then the 90’s hit and bam he disappeared more or less. I thought he went into witness protection after Tombstone.

    • Tom_Bando says :

      He was in the Rock, though. Remember the whole fishbowl shootout in the shower-room? ‘I Cannot give that order–!’ ‘STAND DOWN~!’ ‘I cannot give that order–‘ etc.

      He was pretty okay in that, too.

      But sure, since then?? he’s in Ken Wahl land.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        True I forgot about that The Rock. Revised time line, Michael Biehn disappeared into the Burmuda Triangle post ’96 and reappeared in Planet Terror in ’08

  3. Tom_Bando says :

    Funny review. I always liked Richard Jordan, too. I can’t say I’ve even heard of this–but if it ever finds its way on the local Idiot box channels alongside the stray Dolph Lundgren or Jeff Fahey flick, and I see it-well gosh darn it, I’ll give it a looksee there Wolf.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Oh, aye, it’s worth a look, Tom. True, not many know of Timebomb – I only clocked it back in the day coz my Biehn radar was on full after Terminator, Aliens & Abyss.

      I couldn’t find a full movie link – well, a decent one anyway.

      You can still get it on Laserdisc!

  4. Continentalop says :

    I know I’ve seen this on HBO in the early 90s, yet I can’t remember it at all.

  5. kloipy says :

    Great review as always Wolf. Never saw this one. But I agree it is all about the Biehn.

  6. Jarv says :

    Lovely review. Never seen this one.

    Did Cherry Falls also happen to fall out of the sack? That’s a terrible film

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thanks, Jarv.

      Are you psychic? Mystic Jarv or what… Cherry Falls came out second! I hadn’t seen it, was dreading it actually. Initial feelings are – not as bad as I thought it was going to be.

      Loving ‘I, Lucifer’ by the way – and I’m only ten pages in!

  7. Droid says :

    I’m a massive Biehn fan but must admit to avoiding nearly all of his “lesser” films, like this one.

    After Tombstone? I thought Biehn was great in The Rock, but he was terrible in Art of War (which was a terrible film anyway).

    Great review, Wolf. Looking forward to the next installment.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Do not avoid The Biehn! He may kidnap you and get all intense and shouty!

      Haven’t seen Art Of War, and somehow it’s not in the hat for perusal. Perhaps I should…

      Nice one, Droid.

  8. Frank Marmoset says :

    Nice one, ThereWolf. I don’t think I’ve seen this one, even though Biehn was an actor I’d watch in almost anything back in the late eighties/early nineties.

    I wonder what’s next. Rampage? The Lords Of Discipline? Navy Seals? I’m intrigued.

    P.S. Didn’t Tarantino nick the colours thing from The Taking Of Pelham 123? It’s been a long time since I saw that one, I can’t remember.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Cheers, Frank.

      I can’t recall Pelham & I will happily stand corrected. I was only being slightly serious throwing the ‘colours’ thing in there!

      And, yeh, Rampage, Lords & the immense Navy Seals are all in the hat awaiting the next dreaded draw (which probably won’t be till the new year…)

  9. just pillow talk says :

    I’ve definitely never seen this one, and yet another good write-up wolf…

    An excellent idea for reviews btw. Find an actor and through chance, pick out 3 of his/her movies.

    Feeding off his last good role in Tombstone…you can do 3 films from:

    – Kurt Russell
    – Sam Elliot
    – Val Kilmer
    – Bill Paxton
    – Powers Boothe

    • Jarv says :

      That is a good idea.

    • Droid says :

      If I were to review three films from those guys I’d do…

      – Kurt Russell… Dark Blue, Tango & Cash and Unlawful Entry
      – Sam Elliot… The Hi-Lo Country, Road House and Rush
      – Val Kilmer… Thunderheart, The Island of Dr Moreau and Spartan
      – Bill Paxton… One False Move, Mighty Joe Young and Frailty
      – Powers Boothe… Sudden Death, Red Dawn and U Turn

      • just pillow talk says :

        Change the “If I were to” to “I’m going to”, though I think it should be more luck of the draw…

    • ThereWolf says :

      Thank you, JPT.

      That is a top idea. If we each snag an actor (obviously I’ve got The Biehn covered) and rustle up their ‘lesser’ movies… sounds good to me.

      Then we can all get together and ‘review’ Tombstone on a drunkening night. Maybe?

  10. DocPazuzu says :

    You fucking HAVE to do Megiddo: Omega Code 2. Biehn vs satan! “Help me, Jesus!” Greatest apoco-christian cheesefest ever. Also starring R. Lee Ermey and Franco Nero. WIN!

    • Jarv says :

      Oooh. That sounds right up my alley as well.

      • docpazuzu says :

        Jarv, you’d love it. All the liberals (satan’s people!) have soft, semi-long hair and all the conservatives (God’s people!) have short haircuts. Michael York hamming it up until a great, bat-winged satan actually bursts out of him and leads a horde of non-believers and atheists against the God-fearing U.S. and Mexican armies in the valley of Megiddo.


      • Jarv says :

        That sounds immense. I have to see that.

        Cinemageddon seems to be fucked nowadays- have you been there recently?

      • DocPazuzu says :

        The only thing fucked about cinemageddon is my ratio. Last week they gave me my 8-week banning notice. Either I up my ratio to 0.5 (it’s currently at a paltry 0.444) in that time or I’ll have to get me coat. Luckily I recently discovered the joy of the program Torrent Ratio Keeper, so I hope to be back in decent business before long.

      • Jarv says :

        God damn it. I keep trying to get there from home and it either keeps timing out or I get a 404 error.

        Fucking bet that’s BT throttling me again. Bastards. It’s been fucked for a month.

        My ratio is well and truly screwed at the moment- or it has been for a while. I’m considering paying the money.

        If I ever get back in

      • DocPazuzu says :

        If you do get back in, make sure you have Torrent Ratio Keeper downloaded and installed. With it you can make every uploaded megabyte look like ten megs on the tracker while the inverse can be set up for downloads. It’s gold.

      • Jarv says :

        My actual PC which has all the Cinemageddon stuff on it is fucked. i’m using a jury rigged lap top.

        When I buy a New PC in January I’m definitely going to sort all this stuff out.

      • Droid says :

        What the hell is this cinemageddon thing? Whats the ratio?

      • Jarv says :

        Cinemageddon is a members only torrent site- and easily the best one on the internets for old, obscure schlocy stuff. I got Deadly Prey, Leviathan, The Kindred, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, The Exterminator, Vice Squad (which I’ve never been able to find anywhere else) and Oversexed Rugsuckers from Mars from it.

        It WILL have A*P*E as well. There’s an awful lot of Shitbusters stuff there.

      • Jarv says :

        The Ratio refers to the amount you have to upload/ download to keep active. Basically, if like me and you’re below a certain amount you need a ratio of 0.3- I’m on 0.38 at the moment, but the next thing I download from it will put me over the next tier and I will need to get above 0.4.

        This happened because I didn’t understand how it worked when I was first doing it. So I’m miles off now.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Doc – it’s in the hat! And that’s the first I’ve read about what it is. When I was pulling up The Biehn’s films I saw that title and did a proper “Megiddo? Eh? What. The. Fuck?”

      I hope that comes out in the next batch, I’m mad for that now!

      Actually, it’s not a hat anymore – I transferred the titles to an empty Malteser’s box. Coz I needed me hat back. It’s fucking freezing. It’s about -58 tonight…

    • Tom_Bando says :

      PaZooz—MEXICO??? Really?? Was Danny Trejo and/or Kirk Cameron in this-?

      • DocPazuzu says :

        Heh, no. I do have a weak spot for cheesy Christian doomsday movies, but it seems Cameron is more or less strictly a “Left Behind” kind of guy.

  11. LB says :

    Biehn versus… SATAN?

    Here watch this, I love it:

    Great write up by the way.

  12. DocPazuzu says :

    If you should doubt the awesomeness of which I speak…. BEHOLD!

  13. koutchboom says :

    Just wondering. Will this be covered here?

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