| September 1, 2017

Eddie Kay (Michael Biehn, The Terminator) is your average, no phone-owning, Caesar salad-eating, single watchmaker, which is to say he’s a pretty boring guy. Or rather, he was, until he ran into a burning building like a goddamn superhero, kicked through a wall to save a woman and her baby, and got himself recognized as an immediate threat by an elite group of assassins when his image shows up on the nightly news. Now he’s on the run for his life!

This is the how the 1991, Raffaella De Laurentiis-produced Timebomb kicks off. After that, Eddie’s bombarded by resurfacing memories of a forgotten past that he, along with the help of his psychiatrist (Patsy Kensit, Lethal Weapon 2), must try to piece together with an elite squad of program killers on their trail. Biehn delivers an appropriately unhinged performance in his role as Eddie, a man pushed to the edge of sanity when his secret government conditioning comes rushing back to him. And his flashbacks and the revelation of who/what he is keeps the film visually and conceptually engaging throughout and the lab in which his “particular set of skills” was nurtured provides some stunning, if low budget, scifi visuals just before the action-packed climax. The clandestine nature of the organization that programmed Eddie and their high-tech facilities actually found me drawing some comparisons to The Shop from Firestarter (1984), making Eddie’s story more interesting than its otherwise simple man-on-the-run action trappings would allow.

If I have any complaints about the film it’s that the story is too simple in some important places, failing to live up to its own early promises. That Eddie is a watchmaker before regaining his memories seems important, but sadly has nothing to do with later events, leaving expectations of a payoff to that plant unsatisfactorily subverted. You’d expect him to use his watchmaking skills to disable some sort of elaborate trap or disarm a bomb—something the title Timebomb would seem to demand, frankly. Instead, he just hits people, and that’s cool and all, especially when he wraps a guy’s head in a sheet and elbows it until pops, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity! That nothing comes of Eddie’s civilian storyline shows how little care was put into making Timebomb the absolute tightest film it could possibly be, which ultimately results in the whole thing being pretty darn good rather than potentially great.

Still, with all-around solid action, the occasionally epic kill, and a wonderfully bizarre shoot-out set in a massive, seedy porno theater, Timebomb is an underseen yet entertaining and worthwhile (slightly sci-fi) actioner from the early 1990s. Timebomb is now available on Blu-ray from Scream Factory in a nearly barebones disc, which includes the trailer-only by way of special features. The Blu-ray boasts a generally vibrant and clear though noticeably speckled transfer of Timebomb—the quality limited only by the clearly narrow market for a full restoration of the film, I imagine. Timebomb’s especially well worth seeking out too if you’re a fan of 80s/90s action movies and looking for something new to watch on Blu-ray.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).
Filed in: Video and DVD

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