Eve Of Destruction (1991)
Director: Duncan Gibbins
Starring: Gregory Hines, Renee Soutendijk, Michael Greene
Release date: January 18 (US). Finally! Some sodding Sci-Fi! Huzzah! Pity it isn’t T2 though. May contain a knob-chomping cyborg and spoilers…
Human-looking robots are a pain in the arse. They’re the cause of so much trouble I do wonder why scientists like Eve Simmons (Renee Soutendijk) keep cobbling them together. Re-donkidiculous, it is. Also, fitting them with a nuclear device – unadorned insanity. She keeps building them with faulty arms, though and her superiors are becoming impatient. But there is Eve-8 (erm… Renee Soutendijk), made in her own image (God subtext, deep or what), implanted with her own memories and secret thoughts… her pervy fantasies. So they send Eve-8 off to see how well she integrates into society and it’s all going swimmingly until she gets caught up in a bank robbery. Refusing to ‘get on the floor’ with everybody else, Eve-8 is shot. Evidently, this shunts her into Battle-mode and off she goes, toddling through the good doctor’s memories and slaughtering anyone without the good sense to get out of her way.
The thing that gets me about Eve Of Destruction is they don’t know how to use the plot device. You’ve got a robot and its creator who are identical – apart from Eve-8 dressing like a whore – and director Duncan Gibbins doesn’t want to take advantage of what he’s set up, the confusion such a situation would cause. It nearly happens; McQuade (Gregory Hines) tells Doctor Eve to stay in the chopper having landed in the aftermath of a bloodbath, including a number of dead cops and a hick shorn of his genitals. As you would expect, she doesn’t stay put because there’s going to be a big scene of her being recognised, possibly shot at and then a tense stand-off as McQuade tries to convince the authorities that this isn’t the droid they’re looking for… Doesn’t happen. Cinematic blue balls syndrome.
It must have sounded good at script stage is all I can think, a robot revisiting the memories of its creator – and that does sound interesting. But if you’re just going to rehash The Terminator why bother. Eve-8 visits a gun store but we don’t get that scene either, we later learn that she bought ammunition for the machine gun she took from a hapless bank robber. Gibbins bottled it, as if he thought ‘shit, I can’t do that, too obvious Eve is a Termy clone…’ Got a newsflash for yer, mate, not going in there and blasting the counter assistant doesn’t change anything; you’re a Termy clone. In for a penny and all that.
How come every bloke Eve-8 crashes into (literally, in one instance) is a lecherous no-mark (McQuade notwithstanding)? She can’t seem to find a nice helpful bloke anywhere. I suppose Doctor Eve’s ex-hubby Peter (John M. Jackson) isn’t an outright rum bastard but otherwise, us men don’t come out of the film with our pants zipped up. Eve-8 turns up at a dingy (aren’t they always) bar and picks up a complete cockwomble with a shit quiff he keeps playing with, like that somehow makes an attractive difference; it doesn’t, you’re a cockwomble. She’s here because Doctor Eve, as a teenager, used to fantasise about going in and getting filthy with a fella of her choice. She probably didn’t fantasise about biting his knob off but Eve-8 has probably been watching Cross Of Iron. He deserves it though. But still, where did Eve-8 get this knob-severing notion from? Battle-mode? McQuade feels the same way and hilariously demands to know all of Doctor Eve’s sexual fantasies right down to the way she likes to get banged. We don’t get that scene either, which is a shame. How is Doctor Eve’s favourite sex position going to help him track down Eve-8? One can’t help but admire McQuade’s lateral thinking.
Of all the things they could’ve rustled up from Doctor Eve’s memories, the trail is about as basic as you can get. Eve-8 goes looking for Dad Bill Simmons (Kevin McCarthy – the script is of no help to him) next because the childhood memories of him aren’t happy, he may have been responsible for Mum Simmons getting run down in the road. After Bill, Doctor Eve’s son little Timmy (Ross Malinger) is next. Tim is responsible for the biggest laugh in the film. Mum’s giving him an impromptu biology lesson with a diagram of male and female anatomy; “All right, what are those called?” She asks, showing him a picture of the scrotal sack. His reply; “Balls!” A brilliant and movie-winning performance there. Anyway, on route, Eve-8 indulges in a spot of road rage, the result of which activates her nuclear device. Now we’re on a timer, 24 hours to meltdown and she’s heading for the big bad city…
Gregory Hines has got a gun with a red laser sight. Yeh, like the one Arnie’s got in The Terminator but that was 1984 and this is 1991 so you’ve probably forgotten by now. I suppose he’s the Biehn to Renee’s Hamilton. I like Hines, really liked him in Running Scared alongside Billy Crystal. Yeh, I was the one who saw Running Scared, what of it? He’s all right here but it’s hard for him to get his character worked up about rock all. He can deliver a line well; “I find it incredible that someone as clever as yourself can spend billions of the taxpayers dollars, years of hard work, you come up with something that don’t even have a fuckin ‘off’ switch.” Which is a very good point to make. However, McQuade backtracks on this later – kind of, ‘sorry about that, I know you mean well…’ Oh, yeh, Doctor Eve so means well, developing a robot slaughterhouse fitted with a nuclear weapon. Nobel feckin Peace Prize material, she is. There’s no need to throw that conversation in there; you’ve done the line and it’s humorously revisited at the end – “I guess you finally found the fuckin ‘off’ switch…” (which would’ve been funnier coming from her) – which in itself moves the goal posts. We’re told only a shot through Eve-8’s eye will stop her. Nope. Gibbins changed his mind at some stage, it doesn’t.
Renee Soutendijk is a Dutch actress. They dodge the accent by giving her a back story, a spell in ‘Europe’ during her younger years. At least Gibbins took the trouble to explain it. Renee isn’t all that bad in the dual role but she hasn’t really got a clue what to do with Eve-8. There’s a suggestion the robot feels pain, that there may be an internal thought process going on… but none of that goes anywhere. It all boils down to felling anyone in her way with a machine gun, an Uzi 9mm if I’m not mistaken, like the one Arnie uses in… yeh-yeh, y’know what I mean. As Doctor Eve, Renee employs a method of gurning, particularly if McQuade is shouting at her. But, there’s not a lot on the page so I’ll be kind. Back at base, Michael Greene and Kurt Fuller direct operations but frankly there’s no need to keep cutting back to them, it screws up the momentum. Hah. Momentum? Never mind.
Overall, a lacklustre entrant in the ‘crazy cyborg’ genre but it does rattle along at a fair old clip and isn’t a complete waste of time, containing one or two moments of smirk-worthy fun. Alcohol helps…
I’ll give Eve 2 Rubber Arnies out of 5.
ThereWolf, May 2012