A marked improvement over the strictly so-so first sequel, with a much darker tone, more (often grisly) violence, yet still retaining a nice line in frequently amusing sarcastic wit, and topped off by a spot on savage critique of military megalomania run dangerously amok, this third entry in the series finds rough'n'tumble ace trancer hunter Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson in splendidly sardonic form) traveling to 2005 to stop the fanatical Col. Daddy Muthuh (deliciously essayed with lip-smacking fiendish relish by Andrew Robinson) from succeeding with his trancer experiments on trainee soldiers. Writer/director C. Courtney Joyner largely downplays the light tongue-in-cheek sensibility of the prior pictures in favor of more gritty and hard-around-the-edges pulpy noir attitude (for example, Jack at the start of the film is eking out a living as a private detective). Moreover, Joyner keeps the pace snappy and nonstop throughout, stages the plentiful action set pieces with real flair, delivers a few startling outbursts of brutal violence, and concludes everything with a funny open ending that leaves room for more sequels. The sturdy acting from a capable cast helps matters a whole lot, with especially praiseworthy work by Melanie Smith as tough, perky deserter R.J., Tony Pierce as oily trouble shooter Jason, Megan Ward as the feisty Alice Stillwell, Dawn Ann Billings as Muthuh's fierce prize subject Jana, Stephen Macht as Jack's hard-bitten superior Harris, R.A. Mihailoff as hulking and intimidating robot Shark, and, in a regrettably minor role, Helen Hunt as Jack's fed-up wife Lena. Adolfo Bartoli's sharp cinematography makes neat occasional use of strenuous slow motion. The moody pulsating score by Phil Davies, Mark Ryder, and Richard Band likewise hits the spot. A worthy follow-up to the terrific original.
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