Film: Eyeborgs **
Release date: 20th June 2011
Director: Richard Clabaugh
Starring: Adrian Paul, Megan Blake, Luke Eberl, James D. Ballard, Tim Bell, James Marshall Case, Charles 'Chuck' Coyl
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Paranoia is at an all time high. Government surveillance has reached unprecedented levels of authority and control. Mobile robotic cameras that can follow anyone, anywhere, at anytime, are governing society. The entire human population is being watched, judged, sentenced and contained.
Richard Clabaugh presents a vision of the future all too apparent, all too relevant and all too terrifying. Richard Clabaugh presents a movie that dares to tackle political themes, conspiracy theories, privacy mandates and current affairs. Richard Clabaugh presents a picture starring Adrian Paul (Highlander: End Game) as law enforcement officer ‘Gunner’ Reynolds, in a sci-fi actioner that dares to call itself Eyeborgs. Well you can’t have everything, right?
A throwback to 80’s action sensibilities is no bad thing, which is fortunate because Eyeborgs comes on like a cross between Robocop and Batteries Not Included, with a sprinkling of Starship Troopers thrown in for good measure. In Richard Clabaugh’s low budget sci-fi spectacle, the Eyeborgs don’t just watch. If they see a crime in progress, and no other law enforcement is present, they can take whatever action is necessary to stop it. An investigation into a series of suspicious deaths leads Reynolds (Adrian Paul) to believe that terrorists are using the Eyeborgs in a plot to assassinate the President of the United States.
It sounds like the best film in the world ever, doesn’t it? Throw in some inventive special effects, the promise of genuine humour, Danny Trejo (Machete, Grindhouse, From Dusk Till Dawn) in a supporting role, and what we have here is the perfect recipe for B-movie bliss and bravado. And no, I haven’t forgotten that Adrian Paul is the leading man – I liked the Highlander television series, okay? If you were ever in doubt that Eyeborgs is a low budget affair, the opening voice over should just about convince you of the fact. Perhaps the filmmakers have a sense of humour beyond human comprehension, but I’ve never understood why cheesy voice-overs and subtitles are required to explain a plot – they’ve chosen to call their film Eyeborgs, doesn’t that pretty much say it all?
So the tone is set from the start, and to be fair to everybody involved, signs of genuine hilarity are littered throughout Richard Clabaugh’s third feature. Films like Eyeborgs demand throwaway lines like “They’re watching us, they’re watching us all”, and when the surveillance video of a murder suspect captures him blowing the head off a victim - on a giant television screen in freeze-frame no less - lines like “I didn’t do it” are on hand to provide welcome release. It’s a shame then that momentum is lost as the plot kicks in.
As is often the case, performances are something of a mixed bag. Adrian Paul certainly looks like an ageing action hero, but anything approaching emotional range is lost in translation. He does possess a much needed comedic edge however, which proves all the more frustrating when any attempts at humour are dropped at the end of act one – unless of course you can count a comical encounter at the Honkers Exotic Carwash.
Luke Eberl is instantly forgettable as the Presidents estranged nephew, Juan-Carlos Guzman couldn’t deliver a pizza, let alone a worthwhile line of dialogue, and Megan Blake is about as alluring as a night in watching Highlander: End Game. Low budget action movies demand a young female news reporter, pretty yet miscast and preferably naked. At least one meaningless sex scene is mandatory in a film of this nature, but Eyeborgs takes itself way too seriously for that. Even Danny Trejo plays it straight, a wasted opportunity if ever there was one, but at least when it comes to action and spectacle Eyeborgs occasionally hits the right note.
The robot effects are actually quite impressive, there’s just something about a mini ED-209 equipped with weapons of mass destruction that instantly appeals. The little blighters terrorise and torture with ruthless efficiency, but they’re so damn cute I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up on every small boys Christmas wish list – every grown boys wish list for that matter. The larger Eyeborgs are both menacing and creative, and the action overload of the final act is entertaining on the most primitive of levels. Richard Clabaugh may have hoped to deliver a sci-fi adventure laced with significance and depth, but despite an intriguing concept, Eyeborgs remains a very familiar 80’s action movie in all but age.
Despite lofty ambitions Eyeborgs is throwaway fun at best, not without charm, but not without its shortcomings either. At the end of the day though, this is Adrian Paul’s best film in years, I’m just not sure how much of an incentive that remark actually is.