5 Questions: On the Borderline
As I was watching the 2001 movie On the Borderline, I found myself asking questions. Me asking questions during the viewing of a movie is nothing new. It is the reason I created the 5 Questions feature on this site.
But unlike all the previous movies that have received the 5 Questions treatment, On the Borderline had me asking one question in particular that I really wanted the answer to…
1. Where is the action?
Our story begins with married couple Luke (Eric Mabius) and Nicky (Marley Shelton) and their infant son driving cross country from Michigan to California where Luke will start his new job on the California stock racing circuit. Nicky wants to take in some of the quirky sight seeing things one can visit when one embarks on such a monumental road trip. When they stop for some gas in a small town in Texas on the borderline (DING!) of the United States and Mexico, the gas station attendant Dean (Bill Sage) steals the envelope filled with the young couple’s savings that was sticking out of Nicky’s purse in the front seat, while both Luke and Nicky were out of the car and distracted. Nicky breaks the news to Luke that their money is gone and they quickly realize there is no no way they can make it to California.
Ok, here we go, Luke is going to get pissed and start kicking ass and taking names until he gets his money back… but that doesn’t happen.
Ok, maybe Luke will go find the sheriff and the town’s no nonsense sheriff will be damned if good people are going to get robbed of their savings on his watch and he’s going to dish out some action packed justice!!! …that doesn’t happen either, in fact I don’t think the concept of reporting their stolen money to the authorities is brought up, instead Luke just wanders around town seeing if he can pick up an odd job for a little cash.
2. Where is the action?
Fine, Luke is not a man of action… this is going to be one of those strong female character action movies. The wife is going to show she wears the pants in the relationship and heads are going to roll! I am in. Let’s do this thing…
Turns out that Nicky is not a woman of action. She steals some diapers from another woman and begs for a waitress job at the diner that Luke left her and their baby at while he went looking for work. Some pretty pulse pounding, adrenaline racing stuff huh?
3. Where is the action?
Ok, On the Borderline neither of your main stars are action heroes, so do you think just because your movie has R. Lee Ermey in it, it automatically makes your movie an action flick? Ermey’s action movie resume includes Chain of Command with Michael Dudikoff, The Chaos Factor with Antonio Sabato Jr. and Fred Ward, Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back with Phillip Rhee, Savate with Olivier Gruner and On Deadly Ground with Steven Seagal. But I would not include Ermey’s turn as the captain of the border patrol in On the Borderline among his action movies. Because I don’t believe that On the Borderline IS an action movie.
4. Where is the action?
Ok, at this point I think you see where this is going… so you may be asking yourself, “Hey smart guy, what made you think On the Borderline was an action movie to begin with?” Look no further than the 8 Movie Pack ACTION Collection that brought the film into my personal collection to begin with. The Base and The Base 2: Guilty as Charged are action movies. Extreme Justice is an action movie. Diplomatic Siege is a bad movie, but it is a bad action movie. I have never seen Hidden Agenda, but it stars Dolph Lundgren, so I’m going to assume it is not Shakespeare and it is in fact an action movie like the two other Dolph Lundgren movies in this collection, Detention and The Punisher. So why wouldn’t movie #8 in and 8 Movie Pack ACTION Collection be an action movie too?
5. Where is the action?
I’m not trying to say that On the Borderline is a bad movie, because it is not. The story of a father doing what he has to do to take care of his family, even if it means working with a coyote like Dean and helping illegals get into the United States, held my interest and made me wonder how far down the rabbit hole Luke was going to go and more importantly, would he be able to get back out. But obviously something was missing from the equation… that something was action.
And I’m not saying On the Borderline is totally without action, because that is not true. There’s a shootout, but there’s some shootouts in The Godfather and that is not an action movie. At the start of the movie there’s a car chase, but there’s a car chase in Date Night and that is not an action movie. And you know what else is not an action movie? On the Borderline.