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A secret US agency behind the unscrupulous Childress gathers children with parapsychologic abilities and trains them to become killers in war situations. To rescue his son, who was officially declared dead after an arranged accident, the ex-CIA agent Peter investigates against Childress.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
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Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas) a government agent is betrayed by a fellow friend/agent Ben Childress (John Cassavetes), who kidnapped his son for his psychokinetic powers. Where we learn that a secret US agency is holding him and that he's being used in dangerous mind experiments. So Peter gets help from a girl with similar abilities to locate his son's whereabouts.
I wasn't expecting too much from it after borrowing it off a friend that recommended it to me. After seeing it, it's probably De Palma's most underrated film in my books. It might not have dated that well and the premise of the film might be considered ludicrous now, but it doesn't stop it from being an exciting adventure.
This is a flashy and mostly fast-paced thriller by director Brian De Palma. It does have a couple of slow moments and maybe it was a tad too long, but it's well compensated by superbly tense situations and blistering action sequences, especially in the first opening hour involving Douglas's character when his son is kidnapped and when his hiding out from government agents. There are also some scenes that are not recommended for the squeamish. As some scenes are filled with a lot of blood and more blood. It's rather graphic violence. Not to forgot the whooping and hearting-pounding conclusion. The make-up and special effects throughout the film are truly stunning.
The plot basis is on psychokinetic powers and at times it's rather absurd and incoherent. With some incredibly cheesy moments within the dialogue. Though, the direction is what covers the story's inconsistencies, with great and simply memorable set-ups and some well-shot scenes. The music score is fairly effective in building up the tension and thrills, but also it has an impact in the quieter moments.
There are great performances from the experienced Kirk Douglas (who's incredibly fit for his age and has some physical roles) and Cassavetes, who really boost and add some class to the film. There is such a great chemistry between them and Cassavetes is simply riveting as a conniving agent. Amy Irving was good in her role as Gillian Bellaver, the girl who is having trouble coming to grips with her strong psychokinetic powers. Though, the same can't be said about the rest. As Andrew Steven's as Robin Sandza is incredibly hammy and Carrie Snodgress as Hester is fairly irritating.
I wouldn't class it as one of De Palma's best, but still it's far away from his worst. Overall, it's a fascinating set-up that has its fair share of flaws, but that doesn't disrupt entertainment factor.
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