Bullet Points: Soda Cracker
Following in the footsteps of another former pro football player and frequent co-star, Jim Brown, “The Hammer” Fred Williamson was one of the many actors that Hollywood turned to time and time again during the era of Blaxploitation in the 1970’s.
But while the Blaxploitation fad ran its course, Fred Williamson kept on running. Not only did Williamson’s acting career continue, he got in to some behind the camera roles as well, writing, producing and even directing films. The subject of this edition of Bullet Points is a movie that both starred and was directed by Fred Williamson, that movie is Soda Cracker.
- Swedish Meatballs: One of the things that immediately got my attention about Soda Cracker was that Williamson, who plays the titular character in the movie, was not the only action entertainment veteran involved in the movie. Swedish born, Maud Adams, who starred in the original Rollerball as well as two James Bond films, plays Crystal Tarver one of Soda’s fellow cops and love interest in the film. Then there’s the antagonist role played by Bo Svenson. Svenson, another Swede, may be best known for being the guy to take over the role of Buford Pusser in the movie sequels and a short lived TV series. He also starred in The Inglorious Bastards (1978) with Williamson, which is not to be confused by 2009’s Inglorious Bastards, that also starred Svenson.
- Cub Scouts: Our story starts innocently enough with Chicago police detective and the man they call Soda Cracker stopping by his partner Phil Gillespie’s house one morning and making him “breakfast in bed”. That is if you consider coffee with a hint of tobasco sauce, store bought muffins, potato chips and some cheese puffs breakfast. Soda and Phil are on special detail, the Governor of Illinois is going to be attending a Cubs game and they will be among the cops providing extra security. As the governor’s limo arrives, Phil takes a bullet from a sniper. The department believes the governor was the intended target and Phil’s death was collateral damage. Soda believes Phil was the target, shot by one of the Moss brothers. Ivan and Ace Moss are two drug dealers that Soda put away years earlier who recently were released from prison and who Soda believes are looking to settle the score.
- Crackering the Case: Soda gets some heat from his superior, Lt. Morgan, when he continues to investigate Phil’s murder. When Morgan catches Soda and Crystal Tarver discussing the case, he suggests that the two of them “keep their relations to the sack”. Morgan also explicitly tells Soda to focus on the rest of his case load and leave the shooting of Phil Gillespie alone. Of course the more Morgan pushes back, the more curious Soda gets. Why doesn’t Morgan want him looking into this? Is there something about this case Morgan doesn’t want him to find?
- Uncle Soda: It is par for the course that if your cop partner is shot in an action movie, that the partner needed to leave behind a wife and at least one kid. Soda Cracker does not mess with this formula. Soda starts spending time with Phil’s teenage son Cameron. He even takes him skeet shooting, because there’s nothing to help a kid move on from the murder of his dad by shooting than to put a gun in his hand. The shooting range is the first chance for Soda and Ivan Moss (Bo Svenson) to have a confrontation. It was the first confrontation but certainly not the last, as the two go back and forth the rest of the movie making life miserable for one another.
Soda Cracker is not going to win any sort of groundbreaking trail blazer awards. It features elements we have seen time and time again in cop related action flicks and unless you are a big Fred Williamson fan, I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch Soda Cracker. This one is nestled right in between below average and not worth watching.
For those of you die hard Fred Williamson fans who will watch Soda Cracker or for those of you who may stumble upon it on your favorite premium cable channel or streaming service, here are a few things to look and listen for courtesy of some bonus Soda Cracker Bullet Points…
- Nickname: Soda Cracker got his name because he likes to eat soda crackers. Good thing he wasn’t a fan of beef jerky.
- Favorite Quote: “We won’t be able to fart in our own sh*t houses!”
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Maud Adams wearing a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, then this is the movie for you.
- AKA: The Kill Reflex is the alternate title to Soda Cracker.
- Smooth Jazz: I have to commend director Williamson for the decision to splice together the notifying of Phil’s widow and his subsequent funeral into one montage featuring some smooth jazz sounds.
- Nice Hat: One area that could have made Soda Cracker a little better was the pacing of the movie. At one point the movie comes to a near screeching halt when we get to see Ivan Moss’ singer girlfriend Irene perform at a nightclub. The crowd is absolutely mesmerized in this scene, but I don’t think it was due to her singing but instead they were all wondering if one of her boobs would be popping out during the performance.
- Remember Erol’s Video?: There’s a scene in Soda Cracker that takes place in an alley behind an Erol’s Video Store. Erol’s was one of the chain video stores that popped up in the 80’s eventually putting the mom and pop operations out of business. Erol’s would ultimately be bought out by Blockbuster Video.
- Dirty Soda: I can’t help but wonder if the exploding remote control helicopters seen in Soda Cracker were inspired by the exploding remote control cars from the Dirty Harry flick, The Dead Pool.