Thursday, September 29, 2011

Trancers 4: Jack Of Swords

Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) gets medieval on trancers—literally—in this time-tripping adventure that turns our favorite trancer hunter into Robin Hood.

TRANCERS 4 was filmed in Romania back-to-back with TRANCERS 5 by David Nutter, a very good director with a knack for helming successful television pilots (MILLENNIUM and THE MENTALIST among them), from a screenplay by comic book scribe Peter David. The story ignores the doorway to Deth’s new adventures created by TRANCERS III writer/director C. Courtney Joyner in favor of one that could be cheaply lensed overseas.

If nothing else, TRANCERS 4 is a decent try at breathing new life into the series with brighter photography and different trancers. Maybe David and Nutter wanted to make a vampire movie instead of a TRANCERS movie and decided to mix genres? An accident traps Deth in a parallel world called Orpheus, where swords and sorcery reign and Deth’s futuristic gadgetry is useless (no more 10-second watch!). Orpheus is ruled by Caliban (Clabe Hartley), the leader of a kingdom of parasitic trancers who feed like vampires upon the lifeforce of innocent peasants.

Deth is now a Van Helsing type, teaming up with a band of rebels called “tunnel rats” to stop Caliban’s evil reign. Of course, he also rescues two beautiful innocents: slave girl Lyra (Stacie Randall) and feisty rebel Shaleen (Terri Ivens). One thing about Jack Deth: he may get older from film to film, but his love interests always get younger.

Shooting in Romania provided Nutter with plenty of production value in the shape of castles, forests, and rolling hills that is a refreshing change of pace from the dirty alleys and cardboard sets of the previous films. Without Helen Hunt, Telma Hopkins, or any other actors from the first three TRANCERSes aboard to help out (except for a cameoing Stephen Macht, back as Jack’s supervisor Harris), Thomerson has to carry the ball alone. He wears Jack Deth like Deth wears that ratty raincoat, providing a nice balance of humor, fisticuffs, and tough-as-nails banter. Deth isn’t nearly as smart or as tough as he thinks he is, which is fun to watch, because Thomerson is careful to toe the line and not make Deth into a joke.

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