Shitty Movie Sundays: Mach 2

I had thought that the movie business had had enough of Brian Bosworth after the spectacular mess that was Stone Cold. I was wrong. That film spawned a five-year pause in Bosworth’s acting career, but he’s been working somewhat regularly since 1996. Thank goodness. I love it when shitty action stars are able to maintain a tenuous grip in the entertainment business. It means we viewers get them in more flicks like Fred Olen Ray’s Mach 2, released in 2000.

Bosworth stars as Jack ‘Washout’ Tyree, a captain in the United States Air Force. As his nickname implies, Tyree is not a pilot. Rather, he’s a counterterrorism operator. We learn that from an introductory scene that rips off Under Siege 2.

Tyree drops into a train that has been hijacked by terrorists, and takes care of them in quick fashion. This scene also starts the shit rolling nicely, as Tyree and a terrorist shoot at each other from opposite ends of a crowded train car, and no one gets shot. Not even by a stray bullet. This flick really puts down its marker in this scene. But, there’s a main plot to get to.

Senator Stuart Davis (David Hedison), who is also running that year’s presidential election, is set to take the Concorde to Europe, where he is to enter into negotiations to free Americans being held hostage in the Balkans. Back in the States, Davis’s rival for the Mach 2presidency, Vice President Pike (Cliff Robertson), is behind a scheme to destabilize the Balkans to create a wider war, and revive the American economy by supplying arms to both sides. It’s scandalous, but even worse, the conspiracy is wide-ranging, and murderous.

Davis is afforded Secret Service protection during his flight, but it turns out they, led by Agent Barry Rogers (Michael Dorn), are part of the conspiracy. They seize the plane, with the ultimate intent of killing Davis.

Luckily for Davis, Captain Tyree is also part of the security detail, and he is not a conspirator. It’s time to kill some treasonous hijackers. Meanwhile, when Rogers seized the plane, he told air traffic control that there was a nuclear bomb onboard, and he’s going to crash the plane and blow up Paris. There’s no bomb, but the threat is taken seriously enough that the Navy launches some F-14s to shoot the Concorde out of the sky before it reaches Paris. That gives the plot some much needed time pressure.

So, the Under Siege 2 ripoff of the intro has now become an Air Force One/Executive Decision ripoff. But wait, it gets better…

I have seen many shitty movies that recycle footage from older films. I’m not referring to the use of stock footage. I mean footage that was shot specifically for another feature film, that is then poached to flesh out a shitty film. Even good movies do this on occasion. Generally, when it is done, it is done sparingly. Not in this flick.

Mach 2 lifts extensive footage from no less than three movies. The train sequence uses footage from Hijack. Every exterior shot of the Concorde, and there are many, comes from The Concorde… Airport ’79. An incredibly out of place sequence in the middle of the flick incorporates a chase scene from The Mechanic. Finally, footage of F-14s flying over the desert looks like it came from Top Gun, but these shots could just be stock footage. The amount of other movie in this movie is amazing. The only film I can think of that was more egregious in its use of another film’s footage is The Bronx Executioner. This flick, thankfully, is much more coherent than that rotten mess.

I must emphasize the footage lifted from The Mechanic. It’s such a drastic shift in the film’s tone that it’s comedic. Viewers are whipsawed back and forth between shots from 1972 and shots from 2000. The differences are inescapable, the fakery paramount, the result hilarious. This scene alone pushed this shitty movie up the Watchability Index farther than it otherwise would have gone. Such a level of shamelessness had to be rewarded.

For a movie with such dreadful sets, dreadful acting (other featured players include Shannon Whirry, Robert Pine, shitty movie hall-of-famer Andrew Stevens, Grant Cramer, Lance Guest, Charles Cyphers, Bruce Weitz, and enough Rachel hairdos to make this flick look very dated), and dreadful action, it’s surprisingly watchable. It slips into the Index at #101, in between The Chilling and The Humanity Bureau. Shitty movie fans should dig it.

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