Lorenzo sporting the Joe Lara look.
In a Renegade-y mood, I attempted to watch CIA: Codename Alexa, but the wonderful world of online dvd rental decided to throw me its sequel, CIA II: Target Alexa. Despite this minor setback, star and director Lorenzo Lamas did not disappoint with some slightly higher budget than usual (but still deeply shite) action.
The plot is the old stolen gadget chesnut. The US have developed the Super Scientron-o-matic 3000 nuke guidance system, which for security reasons is in two parts, a big box and a little key, each in a different location. The big box part is stolen by Straker, an ex-CIA agent with bad facial hair and a bad attitude, who is being fed information from inside the agency and plans to sell the guidance system to whichever Evil Government will pay the most. Unfortunately for Straker the key is stolen before he can get to it by euro-mercenary Kluge, for no discernable reason. Bumbling CIA ninja Mark Graver is sent into get the sciencetron back, dragging his old flame Alexa back to the company after she gets messed up in a robbery.
This movie is all about the ladies. Despite Lorenzo's top billing, the ever lovely Kathleen Kinmont is most definitely the star. The central message of the film seems to be "don't underestimate hot chicks", as a series of ignorant males get offed after doing just that. Starting with an excellent shoot out in a rather sparsely shelved shop, continuing through embarassing a bunch of Kluge's mercenaries, and escaping from Straker's makeshift prison, bloke after bloke assumes Kinmont will be soft a touch and gets kicked in the face for their trouble. On the villianous side as well, Kluge has his own lady of pain who insists on spitting out quite hideous one liners before or shortly after nobbling her confused male opponents.
Out of the gents, the highlight of the piece is clearly John Savage's mercenary leader Kluge. The character is slightly morally ambiguous, mostly fighting on the same side as our heroes, which gives Savage a bit more to chew on than is usual in these types of roles, and his delivery of the usually ridiculous dialogue in a fairly rediculous accent is dead on. I'm only disappointed we didn't get more scenes between him, butch bitch Lori Fetrick (who allegedly pops up in the TV L.A. Heat) and their Vernon-Wells-In-Commando-esque camp sergeant.
Considering that the film is called CIA though, you'd think they'd concentrate a little more on the actual agency. Ususally films portray the CIA in one of two ways: 1) powerful, all knowing government agency starting coups in one country while taking out commie pinko ruskies in another. 2) An incompetent, corrupt intelligence agency out of control, little more than nationally sponsored organised crime. This movie takes an alternate standpoint, painting a picture of an agency with a budget of approximately three pounds a month, and a staff of two fairly useless agents and one reasonably irrelevant controller. Even location wise, the base is far from the glamourous Langley HQ of the first Mission: Impossible movie, mostly appearing to be located above an off-license in a rough part of town. To be fair the movie does feature two other CIA agents, neither of whom get a line before being killed off, though their deaths don't even invoke a cursory check-for-pulse from the entirely unconcerned Lamas.
Overall there are some things that CIA II should be applauded for. It is basically a female led action movie, putting Lamas and co. into the back seat, but in a fairly quiet and restrained way, without the novelty factor that has a tendancy to creep in to a Cynthia Rothrock movie say. However, the pacing drags at time, and I think there would be definite benefits of seeing the first film, as characters pop in and out that were clearly established in the previous installment. There are better movies in the PM stable, but there are also plenty worse.