Nothing to Fear Here, Believe Me
Main Cast: Natasha Henstridge and Christopher Lambert
Director: Albert Pyun
Set in 2007, in a Boston that looks a LOT like Romania–right down to the police cars with “POLICIA” stenciled on the side–the city is under walled quarantine thanks to a virus that caused the fall of the Soviet Union, and has made its way to the US. The only way in or out of the city is with a passport, and those are hard to come by.
Police office Delon (Natasha Henstridge, Species) has acquired one off the black market for her son, knowing full well the penalty if she’s caught will be death. Before she can deliver the good news to him, though, she’s put on a new case. A gang of thugs were attacked by a man who looked pretty badly infected by something, and office Delon and her partner are sent to investigate. When Delon’s partner gets decapitated amid a pile of similarly dead bodies, Delon calls for backup, which arrives in the form of officer Lemieux (Christopher Lambert, Highlander) and two other distinctly foreign cops.
They chase the suspect underground and wind up in an old abandoned prison where the killer traps them and picks them off one by one.
Okay, let’s start with the obvious. The story is set in Romania, I don’t care how many times they say Boston. One look at the scenery and this is most definitely NOT the United States. According to the research (imdb and Wikipedia), writer/director Pyun (Captain America 1990) set the movie in Romania, then Bob Weinstein, before Dimension Pictures distributed the movie, demanded several rewrites and reshoots to set the movie in Boston. He also deleted about a half hour from the running time, bringing the movie from Pyun’s preferred 102 minutes down to 76. I’m not saying I mind the shorter running time, but holy what the WHAT, this is supposed to be Boston??? I am curious now to see just what those lost 30 minutes contain because, also from what I’ve read, the main focus of the story was NOT the infection as it is in this version.
And it’s obvious Weinstein missed a few details when he called for those reshoots. Like the abundance of foreign accents. The “POLICIA” stencils. The fact the cops call their flashlights “torches”, you know, like they do in Europe, and like they most certainly don’t do in the US. And speaking of flashlights, and this is just an aside, but can we get ONE friggin’ movie where the characters are scared in the dark and they have a flashlight that WORKS??? How many times have we seen the flashlight go out, the character smacks it and curses it, “Piece of crap!”, then it comes on and reveals the killer right in front of them.
Confusing setting aside, though, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush would have been a bad movie anyway. Pyun’s script is sparse, but when the characters do speak, it’s clumsy and un-informing. It’s almost as if they’re speaking in some kind of shorthand the audience is supposed to interpret as actual conversation. Sure, people actually do that when talking with friends, but in this case it feels like we were supposed to be in on it. And that’s not to say I needed full expository dialogue every time someone opened their mouth, but I just finished this movie and I’m having a hard time remembering anything anyone said at any point.
But it’s not all the fault of the script, because not only can Pyun not write convincing dialogue, he also apparently can’t direct a convincing performance from either a seasoned vet like Lambert or a relative newbie like Henstridge was at the time. In fact, his instruction to Lambert for most of the film was obviously, “Move around a lot and grunt, real loud, like you’ve got termites in your bones and every action is agony.”
As for Henstridge, if she wasn’t over-reacting, she was under-reacting. She was all over the place here, I never knew from one scene to another if she’d checked out or was fully engaged. Either way, she was like everyone else in this movie: terrible.
And this is coming from a fan of both Henstridge and Lambert. I know she’d only made Species at that point, was barely into her 20s, and was probably in over her head in a movie as sloppy as this. But Lambert, come on. As much as I like the guy, how the hell does he keep getting work? He should have stopped after Highlander and let that be his legacy.
Obviously, there’s no way I can recommend Adrenalin, not if I expect anyone to ever trust my recommendations again. Partly due to Pyun making a bad movie, partly due to Bob Weinstein making that bad movie even worse, this one stinks like month-old garbage left in the sun. I loved Pyun’s first movie The Sword and the Sorcerer (hey, I was 10!), but he hasn’t made anything that looks remotely watchable since. And Henstridge redeemed herself with The Whole Nine Yards after this abomination, as did Lambert with something, I’m sure–it sure as hell wasn’t the wretched Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance!!!–but this particular movie will always be a huge black mark on the resumes of all involved. Pyun has said he plans to release a restored Director’s Cut, and I have to admit I’m curious, but trust me, I’m not THAT damn curious. I won’t be seeing that. Now I just have to figure out how to unsee this one.