Country: United States
Director: Duncan McLachlan
Starring: Corey Haim, Brigitte Nielson, Wallace Shawn, Nicole Eggert, Basil Hoffman, John Rhys-Davies, Karen Black, Anne Francis, Seth Green
Music: Misha Segal
In the last twenty years, writing for children’s television, films and books has changed quite dramatically – thankfully for the better. In days of yore, only a few select companies (or people) really put in the effort to craft quality entertainment for children. Say what you like about the ‘House of Mouse’, but generally they put out quality material – unlike some other people /companies who seem to believe that the youth market is less demanding than the adult market and therefore it is easier to make a film to please them. A case in point may be the Double O Kid. It is insultingly bad. I don’t know if it found and audience, or made a profit when initially released (IMDb suggests it went straight to video), but today, where quality children’s spy films such as Agent Cody Banks, Spy Kids and even Cats and Dogs, are produced, schlock like this wouldn’t even get a look in.
The film opens with with a sequence that actually doesn’t even make sense within the context of the film. Two henchmen, one of them is incredibly long legged Brigitte Nielson (Red Sonja, herself) – so I guess she’s a henchwoman – are working for a master criminal named Cashpot (Wallace Shawn). Posing as cleaners, the hench-people break into a top secret facility (although it looks like it was filmed at a high school) and crack open the safe. They retrieve and photograph some documentation from the Federal Aviation Administration. As they are about to leave, the alarm goes, and guards rush to investigate. First viewers are served a fat slice of slapstick, where the male henchman (I don’t know the actor’s name), throws a bucket of soapy water onto the floor. The guards slip and slide, and fall over. Then strangely, after this light hearted moment, this hard-ass perp pulls a gun and cold-bloodedly shoots the guard as he flounders on the ground – complete with shuddering body as the bullets connect. For a children’s film it is rather gruesome – but seems even more incongruous when juxtaposed against the slapstick antics of only seconds before.
The film hasn’t even reached the title sequence yet, and I am asking ‘who is this films intended audience?’ Is it young kids who would laugh at seeing adults fall over – or older teens who want a more violent kind of action?
Next up we have a computer animated title sequence with a chess motif. The chess thing comes up later in the film, so I guess it quite okay. I am guessing that the titles were put together by Jay Johnsen who put together all the computer graphics throughout the rest of the film. By today’s standards, the computer animation is rather primitive – but that is to be expected, after all the film was made almost twenty years ago.
Now we finally meet the hero of the film. He is seventeen year old Lance Elliot (Corey Haim). Lance lives in Philadelphia and fantasizes about being a secret agent named ‘Eagle Dawn’. As ‘Eagle Dawn’, Lance provides annoying little nuggets of voice over commentary as he goes about his daily routine. He describes leaving home as ‘escaping from an interrogation centre’ and while being followed in a car by his mother and younger brother, he announces ‘enemy vehicle in pursuit – closing in fast.’ So while Lance is supposed to be the hero of this film, his character is written in such a way that he comes off as a mixture of ‘paranoid fantasist’ and ‘smarmy arrogant dick’.
But at least unlike other ‘fantasist’ juvenile spies, Lance actually does work for the CIA – as part of their Summer Recruitment Campaign – an initiative to get the kids off the street. But Lance hardly lives the exciting and thrill packed world of a spy. Instead he makes coffee for his superiors and runs small errands.
That brings us back to the villain of the piece, Cashpot. Cashpot has a meeting with a computer magnate, Rudolph Von Kessenbaum (John Rhys Davies). Kessenbaum has been hired by a consortium of business men to aid in the suppression of a ‘Green Report’. This report, if adopted by the governments of the world, would put this unknown consortium out of business (I think consortium is just a nice euphemism for ‘oil producers’) The scientist who are putting together this ‘Green Report’ are going to be on a airplane flying over the Bermuda Triangle in a days time, so the Consortium want Kessenbaum to upload a virus to the plane and make it crash. Kessenbaum is outsourcing this part to Cashpot who is a computer virus genius. But to complete his plan, Cashpot needs some information and a special keycard from the Federal Aviation Administration. You may remember my description of the pre-title sequence. I would suggest that sequentially that scene should go here in the movie – perhaps? Maybe it was a flash-forward? Who knows – it doesn’t really make sense!
Meanwhile things are looking a little bit more exciting for Lance. When his direct superior, Trout (Basil Hoffman) forgets to post a parcel to Sam Wynberg at the FAA, he uses Lance as a courier. Flying to Los Angeles, Lance arrives just at the same time that Cashpot’s hench-people are shaking down Wynberg for the FAA Keycard. Wynberg hides the keycard in some folded up banknotes, that he passes to Lance as a tip for delivering the parcel.
The hench-people aren’t dummies (actually they are – but somehow they worked this out), however, and soon realise that Lance has the keycard and the chase begins. Being a fantasist has it advantages though, especially when you are being chased by goons, and Lance manages to muddle his way through various attempts by Cashpot’s inept hench-people as they try to retrieve the keycard and capture Lance. Along the way, Lance forms an alliance with a girl names Melinda (Nicole Eggert), who he meets as he is trying to flee from some roller-blading hockey goons.
I have already spent way too many keystrokes outlining this film. The action sequences are unconvincing and poorly staged. The music sounds like it was recorded on a toy Casio keyboard, and the plot is all over the shop. The biggest insult however is the ending. I have no qualms about spoiling the film, because I hope that you are never forced into a situation where you have to watch it. Earlier I mentioned the ‘chess motif’ in the title sequence. For the climax, Cashpot and Lance duke it out on a computer chess set. That would be okay – but Lance wins the game in two moves. This is crap – if you need a teen fix, watch Agent Cody Banks or If Looks Could Kill instead.