OK, movie geeks. It's word association time. I'll mention an actor and you throw out the movies that come to mind.
"Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, Weekend at Bernie's, ummm, that druggie one with Robert Downey Jr., oh, St. Elmo's Fire."
So, basically, all movies from 1987. I see. Moving on.
"Oh, Buddy Revell from Three O'Clock High! Yeah. Great movie. (whistling) Oh you want more? Wasn't he in Two Moon Intersection or something soft-core-y? Oh, he was one of the 213 soldiers in Black Hawk Down, too."
"Logan's Run! And Basil in Austin Powers. That's pretty much it, right?"
"10! Tarzan! Tommy Boy? That lady?"
Yes, we also would have accepted Bolero, Ghosts Can't Do It, or "several issues of Playboy."
Jam all four of these old favorites into one kooky flick, add the spice of Spanish newcomer Ana Alvarez, and the result is Crusader, an "internet thriller" in the vein of nothing too exciting.
McCarthy plays an English-speaking television reporter employed, for no good reason, by a Barcelona news service. One afternoon, he gets accidentally caught up in a terrorist attack at the Nova Communications Building. After handily snagging the footage from the hands of his dying competitor, Hank emerges from the chaos a hero; a television news journalist of the bravest caliber.
Cut to Hank's angst-laden mega-guilt about stealing a scoop from a dead man. But then in walks the news tycoon as played by Michael York, who offers Hank a cushy gig at Vision Television, and does so in that veddy charming English accent that makes one wonder what everyone's doing in Barcelona. Oh, and Bo Derek is Michael York's news director. And Richard Tyson is a shady Interpol agent who has plays some small part in the subsequent game of warring communications companies, cable news manipulation, internet regulation, and mega-sexy Russian assassinettes who drive motorcycles.
Crusader is, above all else, pretty darn convoluted. At first it's a semi-drama about one luckless reporter who snatches a dead man's scoop, then it's a dry and dreary story of corporate malefeasance, and at the end it's mostly a bunch of warmed-up speeches about "he who controls information" and "controls the world."
Front and center is Andrew McCarthy, looking for all the world like Hugh Grant's (barely) younger brother who just woke up from a nap. Don't get me wrong; McCarthy is a welcome old pal, and I do hope he finds himself some sort of comeback a la Kiefer's 24, Hall's The Dead Zone, or Lowe's West Wing -- but this flick sure as heck isn't it. The rest of the familiar faces trot through the material with one eye on their tan lines and another on their paycheck; Mr. York could do the "mildly villainous Brit" schtick in his sleep, Tyson does what he can in his three minutes onscreen, and Ms. Derek, well, she sure looks great these days. Honest.
Still, it's not every day you can see Andrew McCarthy and Buddy Revell exchange top-secret information in a hedge maze or watch Logan-5 sniff Bo Derek's perfume in an elevator, so if those things sound appealing, feel free to bump Crusader to the top of your Netflix queue. Plus there's a car chase at the end.
Video: It's a Widescreen Anamorphic format that, all things considered, looks pretty clean and crisp. The flick's low-budget roots bleed into the visual side just a bit, but transfer-wise, it's a B+ affair.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 in your choice of English or Portuguese; optional subtitles are available in English, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, and Thai.
Extras: Just a handful of trailers for The Marksman, Stone Cold, Layer Cake, Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital, Kung Fu Hustle, and Rescue Me.
Chatty, predictable, and seemingly comprised of three separate flicks jammed into one, Crusader might prove to be a mildly diverting expenditure of 90-some minutes should you catch it on HBO7 one bored Tuesday night, but it's not exciting enough to drop actual rental money on.