My notes on Axcellerator, which screened at SciFi London
Dane (Ryan Wesen), estranged son of a big-time car thief, walks out of his father’s funeral (expensive scene with extras not shown) and pays tribute to the man by boosting the very same car he was shot dead trying to steal … only to be car-jacked in mid-hotwire by Tomas Hawks (Mark ‘Woody’ Keppel), an eccentric scientist fleeing a shadowy government hit-team who want to take and abuse his just-invented hand-held teleport device. Dane winds up with the gizmo and zaps himself out of the exploding car from Miami to his New York apartment, then weirdly into the lap of Kate (Laura James), who is just turning up to her dead-end mall job in Arizona after dropping her dog off at an expensive vet. It turns out that the ‘axcellerator’ gadget sends people where they need to be as much as where they want to be, and this film needs a bickering young couple to jaunt through its plot while bonding in the approved wisecrack fashion familiar from a range of 1980s genre efforts (cf: Trancers).
On their tails are an array of duplicitous conspiracy organisation guest stars, also with ‘80s credits – Sam J. Jones as a grinning psycho hit man, Sean Young as a double agent, John James and Maxwell Caulfield as feuding functionaries in rival government agencies – and there are car chases, some ski-lift/cable-car action in a side-quest to the Andes, shoot-outs, explosions, and all that fun stuff. It’s weirdly inconsistent, as if scheduling were as much a problem as budget – some of the cast have scenes together but act as if they never met and certainly didn’t go anywhere near the locations specified, and we hear an awful lot about dead dad and ailing pet without ever seeing them.
Director/co-writer David Giancola started out in 1994 with Time Chasers (aka Tangents), a film which got some attention for being the subject of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff track … this seems to be a demonstration that he can take more or less the same elements of that film and glue them together in a professional form that doesn’t quite fit the current trend for retro-VHS material (cf: Turbo Kid) but is rooted in the conventions of that era. It’s a bit of a mess but the leads are reasonably engaging – James, in particular, throws away her throwaway lines properly – and it’s amiable enough.
Here’s the SciFi London listing.
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