Bullet Points: Blowback
In this edition of Bullet Points, I’ll take a look at the Mario Van Peebles film, Blowback.
- Grabbing Your Attention: You only get one chance to make a first impression a saying Blowback kept in mind as it starts off with James Remar’s character, psychotic serial killer John Matthew Whitman, crucifying a topless woman upside down using a nail gun to affix her to the wooden cross. This is the type of scene that will either make you turn the movie off or have you immediately invest the next 90 minutes of your life, because obviously a psycho like Whitman needs to be brought to justice.
- Justice Comes Swiftly: Did I say 90 minutes? I must have meant 20… because Inspector Don Morrell (Mario Van Peebles) is there to save the day, although he too takes some nails to his palms in the process. The important thing is Whitman is arrested, put on a trial, found guilty and then sentenced to death in the gas chamber… I was under the impression that this was a full length feature film and not an action short, but maybe the run time on IMDB was wrong. They’ve been known to be wrong from time to time in the past.
- Wait There’s More: You knew things couldn’t end that easily… Whitman’s death was staged by some black ops government agency. They plan on making Whitman an agent/killing machine for the government. You are probably saying that sounds like a really terrible idea and you’d be right. While they think they have rehabilitated Whitman, erased his memory, gave him some plastic surgery and a new identity as Steven Llyod Schmidt… all they really did was give a crazy killer a chance to kill again. You see he played along and then when the time was right he skips out on his new bosses to take care of some personal business back in California.
- Going Back to Cali: Whitman aka Schmidt is back in California, where he was arrested and convicted of killing 9 women. He manages to get access to the hall of records and find the juror list from his trial… now Schmidt has plan to go down the list of the jurors, the judge, the prosecutors and the arresting officer and kill them as retribution for sentencing him to death.
- Religious Overtones: There are religious overtones through out the movie, as Whitman/Schmidt believes he is doing God’s work, conversely you have Morrell who prior to joining the police academy was actually studying to become a priest and has the Bible memorized verse for verse. This makes him the perfect cop to go up against Remar’s character. Speaking of Remar, this whole movie felt a little like Season 6 of Dexter… although since this came first I guess Season 6 of Dexter felt a little like Blowback.
Blowback could be categorized as an action thriller and there’s definitely more emphasis on the thriller aspect than the action. Mario Van Peebles isn’t playing a super cop, but he is effective in his role as cop who is haunted by the original Whitman case and then finds himself reliving it all over again. James Remar also puts on a quality performance as the disturbed antagonist.
If you are in the mood for a little more story and not so much in your face action, you may want to check out Blowback. And if you decide to, here are a few more Bullet Points to look for…
- New Jack City: Van Peebles makes a Nino Brown reference. Brown was the lead character (played by Wesley Snipes) in New Jack City, a movie that also starred Mario Van Peebles.
- Nose Job: While I immediately recognized James Remar as Whitman in the opening scene of the film, something seemed off about him. In order to set up the whole plastic surgery angle later in the movie, Whitman is wearing a prosthetic nose, so after the surgery we see him looking like the James Remar we are all familiar with. It also makes for a great effect when Morrell bites the tip of Whitman’s nose off during their skirmish at the beginning of the film.
- Don’t Cross MVP: Keep this pun in mind when you see the murder weapon in the big finish.
- Going Commando: Blowback is directed by Mark L. Lester. Lester (a fellow Cleveland native of mine) also directed Extreme Justice, Showdown in Little Tokyo and a true action classic, Commando!