In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.
Marshal W.T. O'Niel is assigned to a mining colony on Io, one of Jupiter's moons. During his tenure miners are dying - usually violently. When the marshal investigates he discovers the one thing all the deaths have in common is a lethal amphetamine-type drug, which allows the miners to work continuously for days at a time until they become "burned out" and expire. O'Niel follows the trail of the dealers, which leads to the man overseeing the colony. Now O'Niel must watch his back at every turn, as those who seek to protect their income begin targeting him... Written by
First, let's get the science out of the way. Yes, Jupiter's magnetosphere would have roasted anyone on Io in 5 minutes. Also, the non stop volcanic eruptions would have made mining there impossible. This is a very entertaining, tense, non stop, well made film. Connery's O'Niel is a good piece of acting, very controlled and intimidating. I am not going into the High Noon comparisons that plagued this film in 1981. It has several pop out scares that caused eruptions of popcorn in my theater. When you have two great old pros like Peter Boyle and Sean Connery together with passable effects, a great script and a good supporting cast, you have one great movie. It features the best foot chase in a movie until Casino Royale in 2006, and that was 25 years later.
Action movies depend upon their villains and you will love hating the corporate swine Sheppard played very well by Boyle. Frances Sternhagen's Dr. Lazarus provides the only humor in an otherwise very tense, bleak, violent thriller. She and Connery's scenes are among the best in the movie. Hyams made some bad movies: End of Days and 2010 but this was easily his best work. The scripts anti corporate take was derivative of ALIEN but so what? It is tense, suspenseful and well acted. It has great action sequences inside and outside in space. One of the few films to show an audience what happens to a human body exposed to space's zero pressure. People who are fans of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY should watch this to see how terrible that scene of tape boy in space really is.
The film has two stars taken away for O Niel's wife and son who are just dreadful actors. Hyams seemed to sense this; he has them leave on the shuttle but, unfortunately, we have to endure some of the worst acting on their taped messages to him. It brings the movie to a screeching halt; I know it is supposed to provide emotional depth but their performances are just abysmal. Also, 34 years later, I can still not make out the blue laser light bar couples simulating sex very odd and unnecessary. Lots of people under 40 may have missed this film, it did not do that well at the box office mainly due to the gore which today is quite tame.
If you like Sean Connery, you are in for a real treat. Sternhagen, the only reason to watch Doc Hollywood, steals the film as the world's grumpiest doctor. It is very intense action packed and scary. It has some truly jolting pop out scares that will send your snacks flying across the room.
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