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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

High Risk (1995)

(aka: Meltdown)



Reviews and Comments

"What is it with these bomb nuts and their color-coded wires?"

It attempts to be Die Hard infused with martial arts, but High Risk makes too many miscalculations that throw off its impact. It is simultaneously too violent and too slapstick, evoking conflicting feelings that don't sit well together. After badguys mow down scores of innocent people, the film cuts to juvenile comic relief. We're not in the mood for it. The grisly death of innocents does not allow us to appreciate a snake biting a sidekick in the rear. Then again, one could quite reasonably argue that snake bites in the rear don't particularly stand well on their own, either.

There are a couple of good fights and a lot of improbable ones. The movie faithfully observes the fabricated reality that if the hero is rolling across the floor in search of cover, then none of the dozens of bullets from dozens of machine guns will hit him. It also makes sure that the same badguys who shoot extras without pause will hold the heroes at gunpoint and threaten and snarl and pull the trigger too late.

High Risk might have been more enjoyable if it weren't trying so hard. If the violence were less extravagant (it's the threat of violence that offers thrills and tension in an action movie, not the carrying out of it) and the humor were less forced (none of the comic relief comes across as anything but irritating), the same plot and character arcs could have worked. As it is, the film is such an assault of contrary tones that it is, save for the occasional scene, quite unsatisfying.