Thomas Howell should legally change his name to Thomas Howell (The Hitcher), because that's the way it turns up on the cover of every single film he's made since. This is probably because any film he's made since the Hitcher hasn't been exactly what you'd call a big hit. In fact, the only film I can recall the title of was something called The Kid, and I have no idea whether or not I've even watched that one (probably not).
By 1997 things must have been looking especially grim for Howell (The Hitcher), because even though his ferret-like features appear on the cover of this pound shop DVD, he doesn't even turn up until forty minutes into the film, and even then it's as some comedy sidekick type person. He's even playing second fiddle to Matt Frewer, who's career didn't even get as far as something like the Hitcher. Sure, he turned up in the remake of Dawn of the Dead but luckily only lasted five minutes before a fellow cast member realised who he was and shot him.
So who are these two bantam weight actors lining up behind to collect their cheques? I can't remember, but his character's name was Brodie, and he wasn't very good as an action hero. When a man leaves a room and comes back in again and you're not sure if it's the same guy, you've got a blandness problem.
Dead Fire is one of them ultra-low budget sci-fi flicks from the nineties. As it cost me a pound and didn't make out that it was any kind of sci-fi movie messiah (like those Matrix films) I was willing to cut it as much slack as I could. It didn't commit the cardinal sin of boring me to tears and even though it tried it's hardest to be as clichéd, by-the-numbers, predictable pile of crap someone along the way someone must have realised this and made it as daft as possible.
It's 2064 and the Earth has been destroyed by war, as per usual. Floating in orbit around the Earth is a vast model spaceship containing a ryogenics unit just waiting for the Earth to sort itself out so that everyone can get back down there and start breeding like rabbits. The commanding officer of this ship thinks that the 'wait and see' approach is the best idea, but David oulthard-jawed scientist Kendal thinks that bouncing a solar flare off of the Hubble telescope into Earth's atmosphere might just jig things up again. That's so stupid it just might work! It doesn't though, for the time being. Meanwhile Kendal's ultra-bland boyfriend Brodie has just been sent down to look after all the frozen people by his boss, some chick whose acting skills are of the soap opera over-emphasize everything ilk, whom I immediately pegged as a traitor. Sure enough, she heads for a prison on Earth (now a vast desert), wastes about twenty people, and releases Max Derbin (Frewer), who had been jailed for previously starting a mutiny on the ship. Traitor-chick, Derbin, and some cronies all head back to the ship and managed to take it over, even though it's mile across and there's only about ten of them. To make sure the audience knows Derbin is evil, he kills quite a few folks and acts like he's Alan Rickman, which, by any stretch of the imagination, he's not.
Brodie, meanwhile, has kind of figured out that this is all going on by being attacked by knife wielding guys and a bit of computer hacking. After tricking a terrorist into going into a cryogenic chamber and sticking a rectal probe in his mouth, he revives Thomas Howell and heads off to waste loads of terrorists. As you can see the film tries to walk the line of your standard terrorists take over something film in a space setting, but seems to continually trip over it's own feet with inane dialogue, overacting, or dodgy direction. These all turn out to be positive factors in a film like this, however, so let's have a look at what makes this infinitely more enjoyable than something like Dragon Fighter or Matrix Revolutions.
Thomas plays a guy called Amos Tucker, whom Derbin thinks is a particle physician type, but is in fact Amos E Tucker, the guys twin brother! I've never met a set of twins called David and David or Ursula and Ursula, but when Thomas starts going all Darth Maul with a snooker cue on a muscleman, things aren't all that bad. I've already mentioned Max Headroom's diabolical acting in this one, but when he licks the underside of his girl's neck, I nearly vomited, and when he kills traitor chick and replaces her with a character who turns evil for absolutely no reason whatsoever and licks her neck as well, I almost vomited again! I won't mention her incomprehensible accent and the suggestion of buggery that comes later on.
Your film is in trouble when the baddie shouts 'Top of the world, Ma!' just as the entire space station explodes. Brodie and Kendal and Thomas (along with all the frozen folks) survive, but Brodie must have forgotten about all the innocent awake folks that were on the space station when he decided to blow it up..
There's even more daftness that I haven't mentioned, like the inept gun battles to the non-sensical one liners and the really cheap synth score, but when you buy a Thomas Howell film you shouldn't expect much, and I didn't. Things were kept ticking over well enough and although everything played out exactly how you'd expect, it was stupid and inept enough to be even more entertaining than it should be, and I'm sure the film makers knew that anyway. Recommended if you see it for fifty pence or find it lying in the street.
Review by Bezenby from the Internet Movie Database.