Robert Kurzman has found fame over the years as a premier makeup and special effects artist. As a co-founder of K.N.B. EFX Group, Kurtzman quickly made a name for himself as the go-to guy for creature and horror effects — eventually branching out into directing with films such as Wishmaster, Buried Alive and The Rage.
For his latest directorial project, though, Kurtzman has branched out into a genre slightly different from the one he cut his teeth with. Instead of grotesque monsters with wicked claws and ferocious overbites, the only demon on display in Deadly Impact is a greedy little man with his finger on a detonator.
Sean Patrick Flanery stars in Deadly Impact as Tom Armstrong, a former cop haunted by the specter of the one who got away — the criminal who took everything from him.
Deadly Impact begins with a bang. On Christmas Eve, Armstrong and his partner Ryan Alba (Greg Serano) get a call about a possible lead in the location of the Lion, the mysterious assassin the two have been tracking for the last three years. When the two cops arrive at the house that the Lion is supposed to be hunkering down in it quickly becomes apparent all is not what it seems. Instead of the killer the two find Armstrong’s wife tied to a pillar and surrounded by explosives.
The bombs will detonate in a matter of minutes — killing all the cops in the house —unless Armstrong shoots the kill switch that just happens to be taped to the front of his wife’s blouse. Seeing how Deadly Impact is a movie about a cop torn apart by his inner demons, I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
Unfortunately, Deadly Impact is never quite able to live up to its “oh crap” opening. Kurtzman and writer Alexander Vesha began their movie with such a bang, the rest of the film seems like a whimper in comparison.
Joe Pantoliano, as the deadly Lion, sure gives it his all though. Pantoliano has long been a favorite character actor of mine and he is in fine form in Deadly Impact as the disguise-loving, urine-happy mad bomber who is doing his best to channel Hollywood’s most memorable sociopaths. Like a cross between Keyser Söze, Hannibal Lector and Jigsaw, Panoliano’s Lion plays to his strengths as a wolverine of an actor.
Like a snarling Shih Tzu, the Lion is petty, ugly and dangerous enough to give the audience pause. It’s almost exactly like every other villainous role Pantoliano has ever played. As somebody who enjoys listening to the same song more than once, though, I have no problem with an actor who plays the same entertaining role in every movie.
No good villain would be where he is without a good guy to bounce his evil off of. Flanery is perfectly acceptable in his role of tortured cop. Despite never quite rising above being a low-rent Jack Bauer, Flanery mixes the right amount of pathos, devil-may-care attitude and simmering danger. As Armstrong, the actor is driven by vengeance — willing to put his life in all manner of danger if it means getting his grip around his nemesis’ throat.
Unfortunately, besides Flanery and Pantoliano, the entire cast of Deadly Impact is almost excruciatingly bad.
Carmen Serano (the wife of co-star Greg Serano) is exceptionally terrible as the soft-spoken FBI agent who drags Armstrong back into the case after his wife dies. As Isabel Ordonez, Serano delivers all her lines as if she was whispering the words off an Ikea instruction manual.
She doesn’t so much as act as hide behind her striking arched eyebrows like she was a pretty but noxious flower trying to warn off potential predators. Her expressionless delivery all but guarantees Serano and Flannery have absolutely no chemistry together — leaving the film’s shoehorned romantic subplot feeling flat and unnecessary.
Deadly Impact could have been a real winner of a movie. A taut story and an engaging performance from Pantoliano help the low-budget film stand out from the rest of the straight-to-DVD action films that clog up your nearest Redbox.
The film is presented in 1:78:1 widescreen aspect ratio with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. The image is crisp with colors bright — especially Pantoliano’s unusually striking blue eyes — and effects sharp. The disc looks and sounds great
There are no special features included on the disc.
I wish I loved Deadly Impact more than I did. Joe Pantoliano did an outstanding job as a explosives expert who was the top of his class in Cat And Mouse 101. Structurally, the story may have suffered from an explosive opening that overshadowed the film’s first and second acts but a pretty raucous third act will keep audiences entertained to the end. A terrible supporting cast proves the old adage that you’re only as strong as your weakest member. Deadly Impact was drug down by the cast of untalented would-be actors who filled in the crevices of the film. Let’s hope Kurtzman’s promising directorial career doesn’t likewise get drug down the drain. As for the DVD, what’s up with the lack of special features? Not even a trailer? It would be one thing if the studio was saving all the goodies for Blu-ray but the film didn’t even warrant a high-definition release. Unfortunately, the film was produced by MGM and, with all the studio’s problems, was just lost in the shuffle.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Deadly Impact. Directed by: Robert Kurtzman. Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Joe Pantoliano and Carmen Serano. Written by: Alexander Vesha. Running time: 96 minutes. Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: April 20, 2010.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.