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18 May 2015 @ 04:44 pm
Reviewed: Wine, Women, and War (p3 of 3)  
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Scene 68: Back at the rented house, Steve comes in to ‘good friend’ Harry telling Steve they’ve successfully retrieved Findletter’s catalog this time but it turns out that he’s a big phony. He declares the mission over.

Cyn complains that Steve left them hanging during their infiltration mission and if Arlen hadn’t been out for six hours, Harry wouldn’t have been able to get into his safe at all for the incriminating document.

Naturally this is all coming as news to Steve, since he just left the missiles. Despite Steve handing over the series and ID number of the missile that he just saw with his own eyes at Arlen’s secretive silo, Harry insists that it couldn’t be a Polaris… no way….

Harry has already reported into Oscar that the mission is at an end due to his being convinced that Findletter is a fraudster, so he doesn’t want to believe that there is still a national security problem. As proof, he points out that Findletter is offering a Poseidon-class submarine with crew and missiles loaded and the first of the class isn’t even scheduled to launch until the following day. Steve gives a smirk and nod, because he does believe that someone who could arrange to steal a nuclear missile - not just the warhead mind, but the whole thing - could arrange a submarine accident and hijacking. And he just seems pleased to rub Harry’s wrong assumptions in his face after his friend tricked him so badly on behalf of the OSI.

Steve confronts Harry over trying too hard to impress Oscar Goldman rather than making tough field decisions as Agent In Charge. Donner takes a moment and a stiff drink to consider the ramifications of the decision to phone Oscar and tell him that he was premature, but he makes the call.


Commentary: Another scene that was a bit too much on Steve’s side, scriptwise. Harry is coming across as a career-minded bureaucrat, rather than a spy on a security mission and it’s only being written this way so that Steve looks more heroic in comparison. I hate that type of scripting: Making a “good guy” look incompetent so the hero can look better is always a cheap way of getting the point across, so it needs to be handled deftly in order to make sure the good guys look at least competent. That isn’t really done well here. Even Harry’s successfully retrieving Arlen’s sought journal is treated like Donner was just lucky, rather than good at something.

It’s unnecessary and doesn’t help Steve look better, it just makes it look like the OSI has a bunch of boobs working for them.



Scene 69: The following day, a plane flies over the island.  It’s being piloted by Harry, who is naturally complaining that Steve is having them fly over empty swampy land and they’ll never find any hidden base in such a location. Steve is decked out in parachute gear and insists that he knows which direction he was carried in.


Scene 70: Below, on a road beside the ocean, Arlen’s limo is traveling. Also in the car is both Alexi and Undersecretary Volana. He is complaining to Arlen about having to make the “long drive” a second time for no apparent reason and that he also objects to forcing Katrina to make the trip as well.

Arlen is pissy because he’s found out about the “arrangement” between Kaslov and the American, Steve Austin. Alexi reports that Steve was killed, as he already told him but Arlen counters that his network reported that Austin rented a private charter flight that very morning. Volana tells Findletter that they were 30 miles from shore and there were no other boats in the vicinity when Steve made his escape from them. She also tells him that they even circled for hours trying to find him. She tells Arlen that it’s impossible that he could’ve survived and made it back to land.

Arlen is amused and offers that he knows somebody couldn’t have survived the tale as presented. He assumes that they’re lying about Steve’s role in this business and what they did to keep him out of the way, but he’s not sure as to why. This is why he’s insisted on taking them both back to his hidden compound, as something rotten is clearly afoot.


Commentary: Okay. This section doesn’t bother me for what is on screen, but it does irk me over glossing over the entire catalog deal. It seems to me in retrospect that Harry shouldn’t have taken the catalog, but only photographed the pages. The entire operation would be blown if Arlen happened to check the catalog in the safe for any reason… like, oh… some other customer enquiring whether he as a bunch of a specific gun in stock for instance.

What I thought was being set up was Arlen finding the catalog missing, assuming that Alexi was running a Russian sting to capture his client list, and that would be why he would call of the deal for the missiles and take Alexi and Katrina captive until he could arrange his escape with the weaponry via that soon-to-be-stolen Poseidon submarine.

But it appears that the catalog wasn’t discovered missing, meaning that it’s only purpose was apparently to clue Austin into the fact that the newest class of nuclear submarine was targeted. I’m disappointed that after talking about how urgent it was to get their hands on this catalog, it’s turned out to be for a one scene data dump and then forgotten about.



Scene 71: Up in the plane, Harry continues to insist Steve doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Steve then sees the cemetery with the huge building and underground facility. He reminds Harry about that Poseidon heist about to go down and then bails, leaving Harry to complain about what he’s supposed to tell Oscar.


Scene 72: Cue short musical montage of Findletter’s limo still making its travels while Steve drifts down to the ground.

When he lands, Steve arrives just in time to notice Arlen’s limo arriving to the hidden car elevator. Apparently, nobody has noticed the missing limo driver and one must assume he’s dead because he’s not banging on the trunk to be freed yet.This is mistaken, as he'll show up again later and it'll only make the entire thing even less understandable than it is right now!

After the garage door shuts and Bodyguard [so, okay, he’s more of a general assistant -- I’m not going back to change the references to him now] leaves, Steve inspects a way inside. He’s confronted by a rifle in the back and a ground’s guard wondering what he’s doing there and how he got in.

Ground’s Guard tells Steve that the cemetery operations are temporarily closed. Steve asks that Ground’s Guard not point the rifle directly at him, and uses the opportunity to bionically pinch the muzzle closed as he pushes the barrel away from his chest.

Ground’s Guard tries to shoo Steve off of the property, apparently thinking it isn’t at all suspicious for him to be waving rifles around at “innocent visitors” to a cemetery. Steve requests seeing somebody in charge and knocks on the warehouse door.

Bodyguard answers and Steve rushes in past him while telling him that he wants to check out the selection of caskets, as he has an emergency. Steve picks out the first one he comes to, but Ground’s Guard has followed them in and is still waving the gun around.

Bodyguard tells Steve he doesn’t believe he’s interested in caskets and tries to manhandle him. Bionic Arm takes care of him, and his unconscious body is put in the casket. Meanwhile, Ground’s Guard lines up a shot on Steve as he wisecracks. We get a close up of the pinched muzzle to remind us that Steve already disabled this gun. Steve warns Ground’s Guard not to fire it, but he doesn’t listen. The gun blows up in his hands, either rendering him knocked out or dead as well.


Scene 73: While this is all occurring, Arlen Findletter is watching a convenient and unexplained camera feed of the new submarine beginning its test maneuvers out in open waters.

Findletter is bragging to Alexi and Katrina that she’ll be the first submarine to join Arlen’s new fleet of long range missile carrying subs.


Scene 74: Steve rides the elevator down and arrives without issue into Arlen’s secret underground base.


Commentary: Yeah. Three whole security guys (that we've seen anyway) and not only do they not question when one man goes missing (future!rob here, reminding you that he's not actually missing - we just haven't seen him return yet), but they don’t bother having a guard stationed at the entrance to Findletter’s sanctum.

How is this man a super villain, again?

Is anyone else getting the feeling that we’re trying to rush through by taking shortcuts now that we’re coming down to the end of the film? (We’re at the 60 minute mark and the official run time is 73 minutes.)



Scene 75: Arlen pontificates on how one Poseidon sub and its nuclear payload in the control of a Mid-east nation would provide protection for that nation by intimidation and the fear of a “six minute nuclear war”. Something that such nations would pay handsomely for.

He then takes the Russians on a further tour of his facility. Steve is in the darkened corridor and slips into a lab room to avoid being spotted.


Scene 76: Arlen, Alexi and Katrina enter the room, just as Steve ducks behind some boxes in a corner. Arlen goes on to explain in detail how he’s going to render the crew aboard the sub incapacitated using cans of nerve gas and a subsonic signal sent by powerful transmitters to activate the spray mechanism.

Findletter points out that the cans contain a colorless and odorless nerve agent that will kill the crew within thirty seconds painlessly. He demonstrates by killing a laboratory rat. But Arlen isn’t here to brag. He’s brought the two of them here in order to question Alexi about his arrangements with the American. He holds a gas mask for himself and gives a second one to Katrina, but there isn’t another available for Alexi [or the hidden Steve].

When Alexi offers that no deal was made with Steve, the gas is triggered. They watch the rat die and Findletter tells Alexi that he now has less than a minute to live after he’s run out of breath [which he and Steve presumably had the sense to hold - despite it looking like Alexi is breathing].

Katrina rips off her mask to shout at Arlen that Alexi was being honest. Meantime, Steve comes out of hiding and clobbers Findletter in the back of the head. He rushes to the door in an attempt to break it open, but bionically yanking on the door handle only results in the handle coming off.

Steve is left to run at the wall, busting through the concrete wall to provide escape.





Scene 77: Steve, Alexi and Katrina rush through the newly opened wall while alarms ring out. Arlen shouts for his guards [and now we see that there are some internal security men… they were just kept deep inside the base apparently].

Alexi is gunned down while retreating.

Arlen’s gunmen are kind enough not to shoot Steve and Katrina dead as they see to the fallen Alexi for his goodbyes. The two of them are taken into custody while Arlen remains lying on the floor behind them.


Commentary: Oh, man. The telefilm is really falling to pieces fast. It seems obvious that the producers were having trouble reaching the necessary run time because almost none of this makes sense.

First: Why would Arlen go to the bother of laying out his entire plan, except for Steve’s convenience?

Second: How is it that David and Lee weren’t specifically instructed to hold their breaths when the camera was on them, so it doesn’t look like they’re breathing in the nerve gas - or coming at it from the other side, why wasn’t this edited better to avoid David McCallum especially from clearly breathing while the room was filling with toxin?

Third: Why is Katrina yanking off her mask to shout at Findletter and yet she’ll not have any affects from this toxin whatsoever… this deadly, 30-second killer gas, when the rat was across the room and still managed to die?

Fourth: If the gas is so toxic, and presumably a cure is not forthcoming by Arlen then why would he risk spraying it openly to show off it killing the rat, when the rodent is in a cage designed specifically with a nozzle to connect a hose to avoid the risk of exposure? Wouldn’t that have been the wise choice and then threaten Alexi afterward?

Fifth: Why are Arlen, Alexi and Katrina in an isolated room with nerve gas with Steve Austin hidden nearby and NOBODY stops Arlen right there and then from releasing the nerve gas to kill Kaslov? He didn’t even post guards outside of the room, again! This entire operation could’ve been brought down by killing or capturing Arlen, going back to the garage elevator and making an escape with a call for Bahamian authorities or a Russian/American strike team to clean up the henchmen.

Sixth: Why would alarms suddenly go off over Steve breaking through a concrete wall?? Specifically, why would Findletter rig the walls with sensors for security, and yet have no security men patrolling the corridors or any security cameras monitoring the facility?! Who would go to that kind of expense but then not do something so obvious and sensible?

Also, who’d go to this kind of expense when presumably once this deal is done Arlen would vacate the base as now compromised since the Russians would now know that he’s located on this specific island? It seems like one hell of a set up for something you can only use this once.

Seventh: Steve’s mission was to find the missiles. The Poseidon submarine hijacking is a secondary issue coming up during the mission. Why wouldn’t an immediate call be placed to the Secretary of the Navy to delay the submarine’s launch until a once over is given to every single man assigned to it and a minute inspection of the actual sub is undertaken? And why the hell would a brand new sub on test maneuvers be loaded with real nuclear missiles if this is a brand new design just launching? I mean they’ve got to be on shakedown cruises right? It’s not like they’re going out on live patrol yet.

But more, why wouldn’t Steve simply stop this all in its tracks by reporting into Oscar where Findletter is at so an organized raid can be launched against him. It’s obvious that intelligence was good enough for Goldman to know that Arlen was calling the Bahamas home base or why trick Steve into going there as a pretext for Cynthia’s mission? I’m pretty sure that Arlen would’ve been whisked away to a dark, dark CIA cell and they’d get all of the information they’d need about the stolen missiles from him eventually and in the meantime, there wouldn’t be anyone else to arrange the sales unless you believe that any old anonymous guard could take over without immediately being caught by the intelligence agencies.

The entire plot is just unraveling before my eyes now that we’re reaching the end and it’s a real shame because I was having a relatively good time. I didn’t even notice how much of the movie passes by without any bionic action at all.



Scene 78: Out at sea, the Poseidon is putzing around. Overhead a Navy chopper hovers and conversation among the Commander and First Officer reveals that Donner had arranged the flight out to secure the submarine from the hijacking attempt.


Commentary: And the stock footage of the sub/helicopter compared to the close up on the “submarine crew” is so jarring, it’s impossible not to take note of it. Did we really need to see the actors until after the stock footage was out of the way and we got a jump scene back to Steve so that it wouldn’t be so pathetically obvious that the submarine con tower was a half-ass set on a soundstage?

Ugh. More editing problems, there.



Scene 79: Below decks, The Captain asks Donner what they’re supposed to be looking for to secure the vessel’s safety.


Scene 80: In the meantime, the control room of Arlen’s continues operations in monitoring the submarine’s location.


Scene 81: In a holding cell, Arlen stares down at Steve and Katrina who have been secured to steel tables by chains for the time being. Arlen makes it clear that he’s noticed Steve’s extraordinary abilities and tells him that though he doesn’t yet know what Steve is, he can foresee a great market opportunity in studying him further.

Katrina asks Findletter why he’s bothering to keep her alive. He doesn’t answer her.

He has… HEY! It’s LIMO DRIVER! [Oh for goodness’ sakes: Did nobody check out script continuity on this telefilm!? How the frickin’-A did it not occur to anyone that questions and flags would’ve been immediately raised by Limo Driver being knocked unconscious, locked in a trunk and then presumably found later? Wouldn’t STEVE be concerned about Arlen becoming aware of operations against him, considering this?
WTF?? This makes no sense. Not if Limo Driver just vanished and certainly not now without a scene of Arlen carefully planning to continue his scheme in light of this new information.

Now, I’m willing to accept that this could be why he was suspicious of both Alexi and Katrina trying to set him up with the help of Austin, except the stated reason for that - and without any indication he was lying for whatever reason - was Steve being spotted renting the private charter flight. So, okay maybe he didn’t realize about Steve at first - maybe he just assumed that the Russians had a secret agent collecting intel on him while Alexi kept him distracted by pretending to be offering to negotiate on buying the purloined missiles: That still wouldn’t explain the utter lack of hardcore security and Arlen’s nonchalance when it comes to being a sitting duck if somebody has an operation against him and was able to infiltrate close enough to render his own chauffeur captive, however briefly.

None of this makes any damned sense! *sigh*]



So anyway, Steve tries to get Arlen to inject the sedative he’s going to use to keep Austin from causing trouble into his left arm using reverse psychology. It works and the injection is given to his bionic arm instead. Arlen turns on a screen so that, should Steve remain conscious long enough, he can see the Poseidon get stolen from the U.S. Navy in about ten minutes-ish.


Scene 82: Aboard the sub, Donner is sharing his suspicions of the sub’s danger with the Captain. The tale sounds a bit wild, intelligence officer or no, for the captain to buy and Harry’s nervousness doesn’t help sell it any.


Commentary: OH, C’MON!

Have Oscar call the Secretary of the Navy and alter the submarine’s course to Newfoundland instead of The Bahamas. There. Plot short circuited.

I’m really actively irritated now that the script is being so dense when I’m not even trying to see the flaws in the storytelling and they’re slapping me in the face.



Scene 83: Back with Steve, Katrina is trying to keep Austin awake by yammering at him. He asks her to stop talking, before easily snapping the chain holding down his bionic arm. It’s easy-peasy to make an escape and free her from there. Katrina tells Steve that the Russian authorities always claim that American men are soft. Steve turns it into a double entendre.


Scene 84: We get back and forth between Austin breaking free and taking out the single guard outside the cell [who doesn’t hear all of the shackles being snapped] and Arlen coolly watching the submarine coming within range of his sonic transmitter device.





Commentary: Naturally, we get no indication how he managed to get cans of nerve gas past the heavy security onto this submarine disguised as air freshener spray or whatever the can is supposed to be saying [I can’t quite make it out]. Presumably, it would’ve required infiltrating the vendor for such an item to eventually be delivered aboard as part of the routine supplies but this is all left to our imaginings.


Scene 85: Steve and Katrina arrive outside of the secured control room with too little time to break in and subdue Findletter and all of the technicians before the signal is triggered. Katrina despairs. Steve spots a door warning of high electricity beyond.

Findletter readies to send the signal to his lethal devices.

Just before the signal is sent, at T - 1 second, Steve blows out the fuse switch box for the base.


Scene 86: As Arlen’s base is plunged into darkness, Steve takes Katrina’s hand to navigate them to safety using his bionic night vision.

Katrina asks questions about how Steve can see really loudly for somebody trying to make an escape.


Scene 87: Arlen Findletter wasn’t about to leave his master plan vulnerable to a power supply issue, however. It’s only minutes before emergency power is activated and the control room is back in business.

Meanwhile, with the corridors having emergency lighting switched on, Steve and Katrina are spotted by a roaming guard. They duck into the missile chamber hub. Katrina warns that they’ll still be able to launch the deadly signal.


Scene 88: Steve leads Katrina to the alcove where the Polaris missile is being stored. He sends her to get a shaft grating off while he begins rewiring a control panel.

While Findletter and his men are trying to get through the jammed Hub door, Steve busies himself by running wires from the control panel to the missile’s innards. Steve rigs the missile to blow when the silo door is opened from the Hub and re-closes it.

Meanwhile, Katrina uses her bobby pins to jimmy the air circulation vent covering.  This gives them a way to the surface, while our bad guys ready to plastic explosive the Hub door open.


Scene 89: While Katrina and Austin are climbing out, Findletter and his men open each silo door one after the other, looking for which one of them our good guys are hiding behind.


Scene 90: At the surface, Katrina complains of being tired after all that exertion to reach the surface but Steve tells her that if she sits down now, she’ll never get up again in this lifetime. Katrina still doesn’t understand all of the hinting snark and the wires that the missile is set to blow on Findletter and his men.

He picks her up and makes a mad dash to get out from over the blast point below them.


Commentary: Some really bad green screen helps him out in this regard.


Scene 91: Finally, Arlen reaches the button for Silo 7. When he opens the door, the rocket on the missile ignites, launching the warhead through the door and into the Hub.

He gets to watch as it barrels toward him, crouched uselessly against the rock walls.





Steve and Katrina duck behind a grassy knoll and watch as the Bahaman landscape turns into a desert just before everything is wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. They both watch the explosion erupt from the ground. Steve says that’s for Tamara and Alexi.





Neither seem concerned that the island is being bathed in radioactive dirt and fallout, including themselves. Alls well that ends well in radioactive particles killing everything, I guess!



The Good: First, the casting: I really enjoyed a lot of Lee Majors' performance especially when he was being charming and jokey but he also handled Steve's anger at Tamara's loss well. I also liked Britt Eckland as Katrina Volana and Michele Carey as Cynthia Holland.

I did like the way that they reviewed Steve's accident as a way to introduce the new actor playing Rudy Wells and that Oscar Goldman is now replacing Oliver Spencer's role [though there is a caveat on that one].


The Bad: That scene of Austin playing spy by signaling a waiting submarine OVER the yacht that is his target was just badly blocked and filmed. Adding to this is some shots where inserted stock footage is used that doesn't match the environmental conditions of the scenes filmed for the movie, causing a jarring incontinuity issue.

I hate to point out actor's work when it's bad, but I just didn't like Eric Braeden in his role as Arlen Findletter. He felt overly mannered in the beginning and by the end, he was just bland. This villain needed to be charismatic as a good Bond villain is, and he simply didn't bring anything like that across.

The entire scene of Arlen berating the General for trying to blow up his ship is so insensible that he makes him look entirely stupid. He's also supposed to be a wily figure that the world's governments haven't been able to stop even though they know he's an arms dealer, but we never see him acting or doing anything that seems particularly clever or even careful during his operations. It just doesn't feel like he's much of a super villain that would require Steve Austin's bionic enhancements to stop.

The entire sequence of Steve taking out the limo driver only for him to show up later without any indication of the earlier scene or any consequences of Steve's first attack is just plain bad writing and lack of logical flow. I cannot believe that such clumsy, clumsy filming took place without somebody bringing up why/how Arlen wouldn't be much more aware of his having been infiltrated and doing SOMETHING about it.

The whole scene of the toxic nerve agent being used to gain information from Alexi was just badly done as well. It makes no sense, is badly filmed showing the actors obviously breathing in the stuff with zero affects and is only there to show very clumsily show how Findletter thinks he's going to gain control of a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine. It's all just so clumsily written.

Ending the telefilm [understanding that this was another attempt to garner interest in a tv series] on The Bahamas nonchalantly being turned into a radiation strewn desert wasteland by Steve Austin was probably not the wisest choice. It's a bit hard to see him as the hero when he chooses atomic explosions to stop the bad guy, instead of just calling in a raiding party and disabling the base's electrical generators... or simply killing the bad guy when he's had ample opportunities.


Other Thoughts: I did find it odd that they took such pains to remove Oliver from continuity and make Steve's transformation to cyborg Oscar's doing. It doesn't seem to serve much purpose, when a simple line of dialog telling us that the Bionic Project was headed by Goldman's team supervising Spencer would've worked just as well without rewriting what happened in the first film. I'm not sure what was gained by the revisionism.

Tamara's role in the film is really left ultimately unclear. She seems to be shocked when she spots Austin signaling from the balcony, but nothing is done with it. Later, we hear second hand that she was killed by Egyptian authorities who mistakenly thought she was deliberately assisting a foreign power against the state but we don't see any of that. Her role feels like it was meant to be more inclusive into the beginning scenes of the movie but were mostly left on the cutting room floor - and they were sorta important to signify that Steve thought of her as more than an asset to be used and justify his anger at Oscar for not protecting her during their operation. It's also weird how she's named as as "sympathetic" to what the U.S. wanted to accomplish against Findletter, while then making it sound like she had no idea that she was being used. This really comes across like the script wanted to turn her into a martyr for Steve but also was afraid that it might make the OSI into a callous organization and didn't have the time or ability to rectify the two viewpoints. One can speculate that the producers were terrified of making Oscar Goldman too much of an asshole in case the planned series was picked up.

Although I am more appreciative of a good plot than focusing on bionic action just because there is a bionic man, I have to admit that late in the film as Steve is fighting the final fight against Linkletter, more explicit bionics [with sound effects and some slow motion camera work] would've done wonders. We never really get a great payoff for the bionics that Steve is sporting, especially with Rudy's mention of "upgrades".

It's also strange to go out of the way to introduce Steve's control loss of the bionic hand when he's upset or angered and then have it play zero part whatsoever in the actual plot. It's like a dangling strand that was supposed to have come up later when Austin really needed his bionics and they fail him, but then it wasn't ever carried through on.

I also want to mention David McCallum as Alexi Kaslov: I was relatively disappointed in how bland his character was as well and the lack of any real connecting scenes between Steve and he. When Alexi gets inevitably killed, it was difficult to buy that he and Austin were actually that close at all.

Steve as secret agent doesn't really work well because of the way that scenes are set up: He does too many things that should've gotten him caught, the bad guy has a silly lack of paranoia for being a wanted arms dealer shown by his lack of security, and Steve could've stopped Findletter on multiple occasions but doesn't with little or no explanation as to why he's dragging this assignment out.

Harry Donner's character also has problems. I don't particularly mind his being an asshat looking more to impress the bosses than doing his job, but I don't like the heavy handed scripting to get this point across so that Steve looks more heroic in comparison. He's too much of a dickweed to buy that he'd have gotten placed in charge of a mission of this importance.


The Score: I really started off liking the film and pretty much was ready to cruise through it and have a good time. But the longer it ran, the stupider it got and the worse the characters came off as. In the final analysis there is just too much wrong with the scripting and the horrible and obvious logical flaws to make it as a good tv movie. Lee does well as Steve again, but this script, the lack of bionic feats and what we do get not being handled with any panache and an extremely lackluster bad guy just does the movie in. I was actually going to score this one higher than the first telemovie, but then the score dropped with all of the scripting issues as things reached conclusion. It barely gets an averagey:


3.0 out of 5 stars



Next Up: Angel & Faith, Season 2, Issue 14


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