From the Archive – Sweepers (1999)

sweepers

 

“He walks where other men fear.”

Directed by Keoni Waxman
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Payne and Claire Stansfield

I don’t think I can really say it better than the back of the DVD box, which I copy here verbatim:

“Torn from today’s headlines “SWEEPERS” is a non-stop, high-octane explosive thriller set in war-ravaged Angolia (they do in fact mean Angola). Christian Erickson (DOLPH LUNDGREN) eke’s out a living by taking on all-comers in bloody and vicious, no holds barred barefist fights but is also one of the world’s leading land-mine experts and is called in by the Pentagon when a super advanced A-6 land mineis utilised in a terrorist attack on a United States Senator.

“The rebellious Erickson has no respect for authority and refuses to help, until Bomb Squad expert Michelle Flynn uncovers a sinister and far-reaching plot to ship a bulk load of the world’s most deadly mines back to the USA, and begs Erickson for help in preventing a potential disaster in the USA.

“In the interests of national security she entrusts Erickson with only the bare outlines of the plot (as does the film, it seems), sufficient enough to grab his attention, and together they battle against overwhelming odds (three really crap South African mercenaries) as each sinister element of the conspiracy unfolds and they move ever closer to uncovering the real and totally unexpected villain behind the deadly scheme.”

Imagine my disappointment when the ‘totally unexpected villain’ turned out to be Bruce Payne, and not Pope John-Paul II after all.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, aside from everything the synopsis implies – although it is in fact wildly inaccurate in places, as well as grammatically pretty poor – the film is really dull. It’s kind of a non-start, unleaded snoozer really. It also treats its audience as if they were abject dolts, feeling it necessary to remind us every three seconds that Erickson is fucked- up because his kid got blowed away by a landmine. The weird Angolan soundtrack is frankly scary, Bruce Payne couldn’t be the unexpected villain unless you could afford to have Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken as red herrings, and the characters are all boring.

The mine also makes no damn sense – it requires power, and can be deactivated either by a concealed lever underneath or the big-ass off switch on top, and has an immensely variable effect.

What’s right with it?

Nothing.

How bad is it really?

It was so dull, I’d be pressed to remember how bad it was; which can’t be good.

Best bit?

Once more, this has no real contenders in this field.

What’s up with…?

  • The battery-powered funky mine of suckness, with its plethora of moving parts?
  • Erickson’s former outfit, the Humanitarian Knights of Chivalry?
  • Erickson bringing his son to Angola in the first place? Okay, he doesn’t mean to bring him to the minefield, but if he’s a minesweeper in Angola, for him to get custody his ex-wife must be a Nazi crack-whore or something.
  • Erickson’s personal citation from Lady Di?

Ratings

Production values: Low, low prices mean low, low quality. A few explosions, but nothing to really write home about, and shoddy editing to boot. 15

Dialogue and performances: Not tooth-grindingly bad, just utterly unmemorable. 13

Plot and execution: Zero tension, zero surprises, and every crass emotional short-cut in the book. 16

Randomness: Yeah, there’s some, but mostly the film is too dull to be random. The worst is the framing text, which tries to make out this is a serious political thriller about landmines. 13

Waste of potential: Any action film this dull could have been better. 15

Overall 72%

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