Bullet Points: Open Fire
Suppose all the action stars in the world belonged to a club, something along the lines of the Boy Scouts of America, where action stars earned merit badges for their various accomplishments in the world of action entertainment.
If such a club existed, I think the Die Hard merit badge would be the merit badge awarded most often. Look at the impressive list of action stars who can say they made their own version of Die Hard… Steven Seagal in Under Siege, Jean-Claude Van Damme in Sudden Death, Michael Dudikoff in Crash Dive, Thomas Ian Griffith in Crackerjack, Andrew Divoff in Interceptor, Don “The Dragon” Wilson in Terminal Rush and Jeff Wincott in Open Fire.
- The Hero: Jeff Wincott plays Alec McNeil, a former FBI agent who has left that part of his life behind him after disobeying an order from his superior cost his partner her life. Alec now has a regular 8 to 5 job working as a field technician for the phone company. But in typical movie fashion, some stuff goes down and Alec finds himself pulled back into a life of fighting crime. What stuff goes down exactly? The Martinson Industries chemical plant that Alec’s father works at is taken over by a group of heavily armed mercenaries. The mercs take all the employees hostage and they won’t release any of them until the authorities release their leader, Kruger, who is serving time at the nearby Atwater State Prison. With the mercenaries having the access and ability to do some catastrophic things, the FBI has no alternative but to arrange for the release of Kruger.
- The Villain: Kruger is played by character actor Patrick Kilpatrick. I have stressed before in other posts on this site the importance of a quality villain in movies. The decision to cast Patrick Kilpatrick in the role of Kruger put Open Fire on a level or two above a lot of other Die Hard clones. One of the great things about Kilpatrick is his screen presence. The man looks dangerous and menacing just standing there, he doesn’t even have to do or say bad guy things and you already know he’s trouble. So then when he does do and say bad guy things, like threatening to unleash a nerve gas that could kill residents for miles around, he is 20 times more effective than your average movie bad guy.
- The Action: The action in Open Fire is what you’d expect from a movie following the Die Hard blueprint. With his father’s life in jeopardy, Alec offers to help the FBI, but his former FBI superior and the agent in charge, Special Agent Davis, reminds Alec that he resigned his post and that he is now nothing more than a civilian. Or in other words, go home and let the FBI handle it. But history repeats itself and Alec once again ignores Davis, manages to infiltrate the chemical plant, and it isn’t long before he is taking out mercenaries one by one in hopes of rescuing his father and bringing Kruger to justice. Along the way we get to enjoy Wincott kicking some major ass and putting his martial arts skills to good use.
While I wouldn’t say Open Fire is my favorite Jeff Wincott movie ever (Mission of Justice has that distinction), it is another quality movie in Wincott’s filmography and it kept my Wincott Streak alive and well. The story and the concept of Open Fire is not going to win any points for originality, but the performances by Jeff Wincott and Patrick Kilpatrick make this a movie any action lover would enjoy.
Now I hope all you action lovers enjoy these bonus Open Fire Bullet Points…
- The Simplest Explanation: …is usually the correct one. After a hard day on the job, Alec McNeil goes to a bar to enjoy a cold beer. The female bartender making small talk (and quite honestly doing some major flirting) says “Haven’t seen you here before.” Alec replies, without missing a beat, “I’ve never been here before.”
- Familiar Faces: Alec’s dad, Bob McNeil is played by Lee de Broux. Lee may be most famous for his role as Sal the drug dealer in the original Robocop… Action fanatics may also recognize Bert Remsen. Remsen plays Walter the plant security guard in Open Fire, but you may remember him as Commander Kates in the Chuck Norris flick, Code of Silence, or as Father Healey from Eye of the Tiger… Finally, the psycho from Alec’s FBI flashback was played by Paulo Tocha. Tocha was in two classic JCVD flicks, Bloodsport (where he played Paco) and Death Warrant (where he played Perez).
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Patrick Kilpatrick mop a floor then this is the movie for you.
- Guns & Ammo: The opening credits look like the start of a promotional video for Guns & Ammo magazine.
- Membership Has Its Privileges: Working for the phone company has its perks. For instance, Alec doesn’t need a cell phone, he just climbs up telephone poles and plugs into the circuit box at the top to make his calls when he is away from home.
- One Question: Did Alec and his dad ever go on that fishing trip they were planning right before Bob was taken hostage?
- Something for the Ladies: While doing his phone company work in the hot sun, Alec chooses to do so sans shirt. He looked like he could have been an extra in the “Piledriver” music video…