Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Terminal Velocity

Terminal Velocity; action thriller, USA, 1994; D: Deran Sarafian, S: Charlie Sheen, Nastassja Kinski, James Gandolfini, Christopher McDonald

Arizona. Skydiving instructor Richard accepts a new client, the pretty girl Chris. However, just as they were about to make their first jump, Richard spots that the airplane doors are open and Chris is gone. He jumps out and spots someone falling to the ground. Richard investigates the event because everyone blames him for her death - until he discovers that Chris is actually alive and that she feigned the death, since a second plane dropped a corpse of her roommate, while she landed safely. Richard and Chris thus find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy by former KGB thugs who want to use stolen gold to finance a coup d'etat in Moscow and return the totalitarian USSR. Richard and Chris stop them and save the day.

"Terminal Velocity" is today remembered for a fantastic, 'tour-de-force' suspense sequence where Charlie Sheen (in one of his better movie roles) has to save Nastassja Kinski's character who is trapped in a falling car released from a plane: not only is this an impossible sequence to write, but equally impossible to film, but there it is. The middle of the film has too much standard action and chase scenes, whereas the "plot twist" in the first act is more of a plot hole, yet it gave the storyline a sense of unpredictability, whereas the screenplay by David Twohy does not take itself too seriously but manages to relax and simply have a fun time. Other virtues are a few comical dialogues ("For someone who never slept with me, you sure f*** me right"), James Gandolfini's strong and surprising role as the villain whereas Deran Serafian has a very good visual style, daringly filming parachute scenes at low altitudes, even flying between skyscrapers. A little more invention and cliche breaking would not have been bad, yet as it is, this is still one of the best skydiving films.


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