OK, word association time! What three thoughts pop into your brain when I say the nameâ€¦
1. "That little blonde kid from Silver Spoons! He was, like, so funny in that!"
2. "Yeah, that blonde guy who quit N.Y.P.D. Blue for no good reasonâ€¦"
3. "â€¦and then went on to star in obscure video-shelf drivel like Poolhall Junkies, Consequence, and Face of Terror.
You'd be correct on all three counts. Although he was once a teen idol of the most coveted order, Rick Schroder, despite having found steady work, has never really carved himself any sort of movie-star niche. Sure, he managed to pop up in Tony Scott's Crimson Tide, but Mr. Schroder's resume is all but jam-packed with deservedly forgotten ABC movie-of-the-week material. (The excellent Lonesome Dove notwithstanding, of course.)
So it was with equal parts cautious optimism and resigned indifference that I jammed Face of Terror into my DVD player. Although Rick Schroder hasn't done all that much to impress me over the years, I still like to root for the guy. Sad to say that Face of Terror is precisely what one would expect from a DTV action flick starring a guy whose best days came back in 1982.
Schroder plays a "grizzled" cop who heads over to Barcelona in search of his missing sister and ends up (somehow) thwarting a bloodthirsty cell of terrorists. That's pretty much it. (Interesting that both this movie and the equally boring Art Heist were both filmed in Barcelona â€¦ by the same director. Actually, that's not that interesting at all.) Equally non-interesting are the huge airy infusions of hastily delivered Exposition Speeches, inane contrivances, and yes, the one dimly lit sequence of semi-naked naughtiness.
If Face of Terror is an improvement over Art Heist, that's only because Schroder is a whole lot less obnoxious than William Baldwin (and because "Face of TERROR" is a cooler title). Plus this one has Eric Balfour (last seen getting' skewered in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) as the ridiculously evil terrorist bastard, and I got a nice chuckle out of that.
Although there are a few fairly flashy moments of chase/action/explosion, the best sequence in Face of Terror comes in the form of a foot chase! Rarely will you see a chaser and a chasee so ill-at-ease while participating in the simple art of running. These guys skid, they slide, they bump into pedestrians and get whacked by trucks! Truly hilarious.
What's most entertaining is trying to figure out how it took four separate screenwriters (!) to come up with something this academic. A nine-year-old fluent in the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon series could have written this thing. Still, nice to see that good ol' Brent Huff (the Perils of Gwendoline hero!) is still making new movies â€¦ even if they're just as bad as his old movies.
Despite the fact that Face of Terror is precisely what it wants to be (a mindless and staunchly formulaic cable flick), that doesn't mean it's 90 minutes well-spent. If you're a huge fan of Rick Schroder (or Barcelona, Spain), you'll be able to overlook the flick's rampant predictability, silliness and tedium. Maybe.
The Widescreen Anamorphic transfer looks a whole lot better than this inane flick deserves. The lovely Barcelona landscapes look lush, crisp, and colorful. And then someone some idiotic character has to open their mouth and ruin a perfectly pretty travelogue.
Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 5.1 Japanese and 2.0 French. (I opted for the English track, although based on the film's screenplay, I don't think it really mattered.) The audio is perfectly acceptable; the car crashes screech raucously and the gunfire sure is loud. Too bad about the movie, though. Optional subtitles are available in English, Spanish, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean or Thai â€¦ as if the U.N. is going to schedule a screening of Face of Terror.
A collection of trailers for various Columbia titles: Face of Terror, Art Heist, "80's Hits," Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid & Dead Birds.
Seems like Mr. Schroder's about one step away from the "Casper Van Dien" realm of moviemaking. Here's hoping he finds a good role (in a quality film) some time soon, because Face of Terror is two or three half-decent action scenes mired in a muck of push-button predictability and cop-flick cliche. (Kind of exactly like Art Heist!)