Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Critical Reactions: Terminal Velocity (1994)
Terminal Velocity (1994) would be the most high profile English language film for Nastassja since the mid eighties, unfortunately the production is not all that distinguished. The film works as an okay action film but Nastassja, cast opposite Charlie Sheen, is given little to do and the work is never totally successful. Still, it was nice to see Nastassja back in the headlines when the film was released, although as you can see below critical reaction wasn't so favorable and the picture made very little impact.
"There is a thin line between an action-adventure movie that has a human touch and one that doesn't, and "Terminal Velocity" falls on the inhuman side. For all its concentration on action, the recent blockbuster "Speed," which "Terminal Velocity" sometimes recalls, included two or three characters who behaved like everyday people. Their hair-raising journey on a speeding bus was an adventure that anyone who has ridden on a freeway could identify with...
The chemistry between Mr. Sheen and Ms. Kinski is also flat. Although Mr. Sheen's cocky, sarcastic performance suggests that he has a chance of becoming another Robert Mitchum, his character is too loutish to be sympathetic. And Ms. Kinski gives a thin, jittery performance that is lacking in both sensuality and feeling. After all its rollercoaster thrills, the movie provides no romantic payoff."
-Stephen Holden, New York Times-
"It is possible to enjoy Terminal Velocity once you realize how truly awful a film it is. In fact, it's only then that it becomes fun. In terms of laughs, there are moments of high mirth. The question is: how much of the humor is intentional? Sadly, given the way the film was put together, the answer is likely to disappoint. Intent, however, does little to limit effect. Why else do people find Plan Nine from Outer Space so engaging? (No, Terminal Velocity isn't that bad.)"
-James Berardinelli, ReelViews-
"Sheen seems aware of the movie's comic possibilities, and must surely have had a smile on his face when he designed his character's haircut, which seems inspired by the pompadour of the hero of a little-seen but long-remembered movie named "Johnny Suede." Kinski has a hair motif, too - it's always in her eyes - but she brings a bright, bemused air to her character, and has fun juggling various accents."
-Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times-
""Terminal Velocity" could also refer to the speed at which Charlie Sheen's career is plunging earthward. Sheen's character here requires a certain level of stardom that the actor aspires to but has never reached. He can't redeem bad material through sheer force of personality like, say, Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis can. He's a supporting player, and his lack of stature makes "Terminal Velocity" appear undermanned, starless.
As for Kinski, she has only recently returned to regular movie work after taking a break to raise her children. She should've stayed away a little longer."
-Hal Hinson, Washington Post-
"Summer's officially over, and with the release of “Terminal Velocity,” the bottom of the summer-movie barrel has officially been scraped. Movie distributors must have had some kind of gaping hole to fill in their schedules, because this thrill-free thriller has straight-to-video written all over it.
Whoever thought of casting charmless Charlie Sheen with the long-lost and unlamented Nastassja Kinski as romantic leads deserves some sort of genius award. Guess Heidi Fleiss wasn’t available. This time, the insufferably smug Sheen’s a cocky skydiver, who has just broken an FAA record for safety violations. Kinski’s a foreign babe who shows up one day looking for her first skydiving lesson. She wants it now, and only from the soon-to-be-grounded Sheen."
-Joe Brown, Washington Post-
"It's not that David Twohy's script is bad -- it's awful, crammed with mind-boggling improbabilities and gigantic leaps of faith that -- stunningly -- actually pale beside the steady stream of rank, tired witticisms that flow like verbal sewage from Sheen's wiseacre mouth. It's bad enough when Schwarzenegger and Van Damme attempt clever repartee, but it's a felony offense to give Sheen this much rope. Kinski (?!) is adequate as the KGB pariah, but only just. It's clearly not her type of film, and rumors of heated offscreen battles between herself and Sheen only serve to point up that fact. Stunt fans will find plenty of aerial acrobatics to slake their thirsts, including a dizzying, Houdini-esque gag involving an airborne transport plane and an equally untethered sports car. Stuntwork aside, though, perhaps this film would have been more aptly titled Terminal Stupidity."
"Sheen is a dumb, daredevil sky-diving instructor mixed up with the Russian Mafia and $600m of stolen Soviet gold. Things get off to an attention-grabbing start when, soon after her flatmate is murdered by Russkie thugs, blonde babe Chris (Kinski) persuades 'Ditch' Brodie (Sheen) to take her up for her first jump. She then redefines the meaning of drop-dead beautiful - she jumps, she drops, she's dead. Or is she? Is that unidentifiable body really hers? To cut a long story short, Ditch stumbles about looking for clues to Chris's nose-dive, which lead him to members of the KG-used-to-B, who plan to fund an anti-democratic coup with the stolen gold. While Kinski unwisely takes the whole thing seriously, Sheen simply grins inanely and makes flip remarks. If you can wait long enough, the extended airborne finale is one of the most extraordinary stunts you're ever likely to see; but like the soundtrack, it's too big for the picture. Most people will have bailed out long before then."