John Tucker (David Carradine), the toughest and deadliest C.O.P. (Civilian Operated Police) is back in action, in Future Zone, the 1990 sequel to Future Force. This movie does away with explaining the lore, so some background from the first film is in order.
In the near future crime has become so rampant that government operated police forces have been disbanded, replaced by a civilian equivalent that has more in common with old west bounty hunters than proper law enforcement. These COPs (this movie drops the ‘S’ from the acronym) carry six shooters and dress like bikers. Tucker is the biggest badass of them all, blithely informing criminals that they have the right to die, just before he shoots them in the chest. He also has a power glove that shoots rays of lightning from its fingers. But, like the first film, it’s such a deus ex machina that writer/director David A. Prior keeps it mostly out of sight.
The setting moves from Los Angeles to Mobile, Alabama for this sequel. There isn’t much else to set this movie apart from its predecessor. There is a bad guy up to bad things, and Tucker gets on the wrong side of him. In this flick the bad guy is Hoffman (Patrick Culliton), a murderous drug smuggler whose latest shipment was seized by Tucker. Two-hundred pounds of high grade white powder are in the evidence room of the local COP shop, and Hoffman releases his dogs of war to get it back, and take care of Tucker in the process.
Tucker doesn’t have to fight the baddies alone in this one. He is joined by the mysterious Billy (David Prior’s brother and frequent collaborator, Ted), another COP who shows up on the scene out of a ray of blue light. It isn’t revealed until the end who Billy really is and where he comes from, but it’s obvious early on that he’s from the future, and is a close relation to Tucker. This part of the plot is superfluous, as well. It adds unneeded complexity to the Tucker/Billy dynamic that was already working just fine for the movie.
That’s also the most complex element of the entire film. David Prior boiled down the formula even further from the first movie. This movie is all about a bad guy, a pair of heroes, and the fodder that comes between them. There’s also a love interest, in Tucker’s wife, Marion (Gail Jensen), that is only interesting in that it relates to the time travel subplot.
This is a simple b-action flick with some sci-fi elements. The world building is so much of a secondary consideration that it might as well not exist at all. Carradine and Ted Prior move from set piece to set piece, shooting everything that moves until they reach the final scene where Hoffman can finally be dealt with.
David A. Prior is a b-movie auteur extraordinaire, specializing in mindless fun without an ounce of real substance. About the only thing that derails this film is a tiny budget that Prior was unable to hide. Other filmmakers have done more with less. Carradine was in a stretch of his career where bottom feeding dreck was the only work he was getting. His performance is somewhat uneven in that regard. There were moments where it looked like he was having a blast, and others where he looked like he couldn’t wait for shooting to wrap. Still, it was the most professional performance amongst the cast. As for Ted Prior, he, believe it or not, showed marked improvement over the other shitty movies he’s been in that are ranked in the Watchability Index.
This is a bad movie, and a fun movie. It will eat up 80 minutes of one’s time, and reward a viewer with plenty of gunfights and silly lines. It’s a more tight production all around than its predecessor. However, the mess of the first film had an appeal this film is missing. Future Zone takes over the #142 spot from Squirm. Check it out.