Friday, January 08, 2016

The Sender (1998)

PM Entertainment, known in the 1990s for staging slick, exciting, illogical action movies on a direct-to-video budget, pumps up the supporting cast a bit and adds a science fiction plot to its trademark car chases and stunts. The sci-fi stuff is pretty silly—get a load of Angel, the sexy alien in cornrows and a skintight silver suit played by Shelli Lether—but director Richard Pepin and his producing partner Joseph Merhi sure know how to screech tires and smash glass. And star Michael Madsen (RESERVOIR DOGS) can even fight on the back of a semi trailer without losing his sunglasses.

In 1965, Air Force pilot Jack Grayson (Brian Bloom, the fake Bandit) is lost on a mission in the Bermuda Triangle. Thirty years later, Jack’s son Dallas, a commander in the Air Force, discovers he and his father posess a very rare gene that has turned his daughter Lisa (Erica Everage) into a “sender:” an Earthling with telekinetic powers that she has secretly been honing at night with Angel’s help.

Colonel Rosewater (R. Lee Ermey), working for sinister government leaders who want to learn Lisa’s secret, kidnaps her and tries to kill Dallas, sucking the grieving father into a maelstrom of exploding cars, betrayals, and E.T.s. The unflappable Dallas handles the discovery of a hot space alien with aplomb, not even blinking or asking any of the two hundred questions I would have for a space girl.

THE SENDER doesn’t rank among PM’s greatest, but the expert stuntwork, the humor, and the veteran cast make it all quite watchable. Robert Vaughn (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) shows up as a retired Admiral, Dyan Cannon (COAST TO COAST) is his wife with a secret, and Steven Williams (MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING) is absurd as another alien (why is he wearing an earring?). Madsen also starred in EXECUTIVE TARGET for PM.

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