Shitty Movie Sundays: Cyborg X, or, Press the Damn Button Already!

Cyborg X movie posterThis shitty flick is a bit of a throwback. If it had not been for the bargain basement CGI, this flick could be mistaken by the shitty movie fan for something from the 1980s or the early 1990s. It has that feel.

From writer/director Kevin King, Cyborg X takes place in the aftermath of a war in which a sentient AI has wiped out most of the people on the planet. Think the Terminator movies, if all the scenes took place in the future and there was none of that time travel nonsense. In fact, this movie lives and dies on the ideas that it ripped from James Cameron, and that’s just fine. The first shot of this film is of such low-quality CGI that it lets the viewer know to dismiss any positive expectations they might have had. Who cares if the rest of it is a ripoff?

Eve Mauro plays Lieutenant Spears, part of a small group of soldiers trying to scrape by a year after the outbreak of the war. She’s joined by Adam Johnson as Colonel Shaw, the leader of the little troop; Angie Papanikolas as Lieutenant Lopez; and Danny Trejo as Captain Machine Gun (I have a feeling he picked out this character’s name himself). These are the featured players, and not one of them can act a lick. Sure, everybody loves Danny Trejo, this reviewer included, but while acting is his profession, it’s definitely not his trade.

While out wandering around the desert, Spears witnesses a cyborg attack and capture a man she believes to be Jack Kilmore (Rocky Myers). Kilmore was the CEO of the company that unleashed the killer AI on the world, as helpfully explained in a television news montage at the beginning of the film. It’s a remarkable coincidence that the one person responsible for the deaths of billions just happened to be on the same stretch of ground as our heroes, but it’s just one of many reasons this flick is shitty.

After recovering a hard drive that was hidden before the capture, Spears confirms that it was indeed Kilmore that was taken. Colonel Shaw agrees that it could be worthwhile to stage a rescue mission, and see if Kilmore knows how to defeat the AI once and for all. The mission is carried out, and half of the small cast bites the dust. But Kilmore is now part of the troop. He’s no geeky drag, either. Kilmore fits into the action seamlessly.

The rest of the flick is Spears and company fighting the cyborgs and trying to take down the AI by blowing up the stations that relay its signals to the cyborgs. This leads to a maddeningly drawn out ending, as hinted at in the alternate title I provided.

The cyborgs in this flick are something special. They’re not skeletal robots covered with living flesh like the cyborgs of the Terminator series. This film’s AI is a little more practical. Captured humans have a Bane-like mask attached to their faces that controls their minds, turning them into slaves. The AI then attaches weapons and circular saws to their arms. If that isn’t badass enough for the discerning viewer, the cyborgs also go around shirtless and covered in blood. They really are a terrifying sight. Kudos to King and the production crew for creating some nasty bad guys.

The cyborgs and humans get in gunfights galore, and while these scenes are more entertaining than watching the cast try and advance the plot, they are very silly. King wasn’t all that concerned with realism. Bullets have different logic depending on the needs of the shot. King wanted lots of bullets to be fired, but if they had any sort of effect, his firefight scenes would be over in seconds, so, most of the time, the bullets have no effect at all. Imagine a machine gun where 19 out of every 20 rounds is a blank, and one gets an idea of how the gunplay works in this movie.

Also, none of the weapons actually fired anything. Muzzle flashes, tracers, blood spatters, bullet holes, you name it. It’s all CGI. That terrible, terrible CGI.

I had been worried for a time that the loss of physical video stores would mean the death of straight-to-video shitty movies. Without all that rental income, how would shit like this still remain profitable? Well, like shitty movies overcame the death of the drive-in theater, they appear to have overcome the death of the video store. There’s no better evidence of this than a pile of garbage like Cyborg X.

That being said, with an actual budget, resources, and talent, there’s a good movie to be had with these ideas. This isn’t it, but then again, neither was Terminator: Salvation. Despite the very poor production values and a cast straight out of the Venice Beach set, this wasn’t a slog. Cyborg X moves into the 116th spot in the Watchability Index, in between Return of the Living Dead Part II and Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

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