Tron the Speed Walking Ninja
Direct-to-video is such a fun thing. If it wasn’t for direct-to-video, we wouldn’t have gems like this week’s selection: Stan Lee’s Lightspeed. Let me begin by saying that I cannot believe the Great Stan Lee would put his name with this movie. But no, there he is listed as Executive Producer. Did he create the Lightspeed character? Lord, I hope not. Anyways, the great Oracle of Wikipedia doesn’t list it, so yeah. Hmmm…
By looking at the cast (Lee Majors, Nicole Eggert, Daniel Goddard) one would think this movie came out in the mid-80s or maybe even the early 90s, but no. This was out just 6 years ago. The cover on the box looks like a Tron knock-off. Here’s the trailer:
Lightspeed is a rather mediocre yarn about a guy named Daniel who earns his paycheck as a member of some Secret Squirrel black ops team of sorts. Daniel is played by Jason (son of Sean) Connery. The Secret Squirrel team also includes Nicole Eggert (of Charles in Charge fame) as Daniel’s co-worker and lady-love. The team is led by the Fall Guy himself, Lee Majors.
The film opens with the Secret Squirrels infiltrating a building for defense contractors. Says so on the sign. Already in the building is a dude who looks like he has the head of a snake. IMDB credits him as Python. He’s played by none other than Daniel Goddard whom you might remember as Dar from the Beastmaster movies. Sorry, no ferrets in this film. Boo!! Pythons’ crew and the Secret Squirrels all exchange gunfire.
Since everyone is dressed alike, it’s really hard to tell who is who. Also, the camera work in this movie is all over the board. There are shots from other security cameras, night specs, POV shots with a shaky cam. There are sudden swipes of the camera into blurry pans. As soon as your eyes focus, the shot changes.
Anyways, Daniel fights his way through the bad cinematography to duel with Python. This is a good time to also point out that every single person in this movie mumbles their lines. I have watched and rewatched the entire conversation between Daniel and Python and I still have no idea what they said.
So it was a good thing when the movie decided to go into flashback mode. Yes! Turns out that four years before he was all snaky, Python was a regular scientist dude who was married to Daniel’s sister. The sister had been burned horribly and was in a coma in the hospital. Python worked night and day on some kind of Frankensteinish snake-skin regrowth experiment that might help his wife to heal. Anyways, Python’s funding gets cut and the wife dies. Python turns himself into a snake-man and goes all Mr. Freeze with his quest for revenge only he’s not nearly as cool as Mr. Freeze. See what I did there? Lame, I know.
Anyways, back in present day, Python wins the hand-to-hand and leaves Daniel trapped in the building which then collapses right on top of him. The search team finds Daniel, and rushes him to the hospital for the BEST SCENE in the entire movie. But before we can get to the scene we get to watch a little commercial break I like to call “Journey of the Ambulance.” That’s right! We see the stretcher go into the ambulance, and then from a series of shots, we follow the ambulance all the way to the hospital. But wait! There’s more. Once inside, we get to follow Daniel’s stretcher all the way down the hall until we can get to a doctor. I’m so glad that was kept in the movie. I mean, what a plot hole that might have been! One minute we are at a disaster site, and the next in the hospital. I might have wondered how he got there! [Sarcasm Sign]
Right, so the best scene in the whole movie goes like this. The doctor consults with Lee Majors as to Daniel’s state of health and recovery. He all but says to the man who played the Six Million Dollar Man: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.” Okay, he didn’t say the exact words. He might have used “know-how” or something, but it was more or less the same exact thing. Poor Lee Majors. You know he was inwardly cringing during that scene.
So by now you are thinking, “how does Daniel become Lightspeed?” Well here’s how. Python finds out that the old building collapse gag didn’t kill off his foe. So he shoots up the hospital and then aims what looks like a restaurant heat lamp over Daniel’s midsection. Then he leaves the hospital.
Turns out that heat lamp is a super-powerful radiation thingy that heals or helps heal or something. I’m glad folks leave sensitive radiation appliances all plugged in and unattended. Instead of killing Daniel, it actually gives him is super-powers which we’ll get to soon.
Due to the massive radiation and fear of lawsuit, the doctor advises lots of rest for Daniel. He and Eggert go to the Secret Squirrel safe house . Daniel is supposed to be resting, and we are entertained with a lovely montage of him doing so. Zzzzz….
So one day while resting in a lawn chair, a fly buzzes around Daniel’s person. He leaps to his feet and swats it faster than you can say “The Flash.” So, on that quick reflex of standing and killing a fly, he zooms down the road and all over the neighborhood. Then he passes out on a lawn.
It turns out that Daniel’s body can’t take his zooming about. The doctor (whom I’m convinced no longer needs to be practicing) says that Daniel should rest, oh and take the metabolism drinks and these adrenaline shots too. Yeesh.
The second time Daniel zooms around town, he goes straight for the Academy Sports store. He purchases an outfit that makes him look like Tron. He also gets a neck thing to protect from windburn, and this makes him look like a ninja.
I’d like to also point out that in any given contest between Lightspeed and the Flash, Flash will win every single time. Daniel doesn’t run so much as speed walk, and the special effect is laughable. He looks ridiculous.
Right. So you might be wondering where the plot is. What’s the bad guy up to maybe? Let me introduce you to the Mass Ionic Dispersal Device. It’s used to force greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere and also to decrease localized temperature. Of course, if you use some rare isotope, the opposite effect can occur. Hmmm… Python plans to steal the isotope and make the world a warmer place, I think. I’m not sure. He might have mumbled his villain speech about it.
Python gets the evil gear, but has had some of his plans thwarted by Daniel and his team. In retaliation, he kidnaps Eggert because she’s totally important to Daniel. Python goes over some plans, but he mumbles them so something is said about burning something to the ground and something about a trap. It’s a Trap!!!
Daniel researches Python on the internets. He’s got nothing else to do. Lee Majors won’t let him back on the team since he’s still “healing.” Eggert’s transmitter started signaling, but we all know that’s a trap. Daniel wants to help on the mission and Majors tells him he can stay put at base to assist. Sure he will, you betcha. Instead he puts on the super suit and hides it under a lab coat..and then off he goes to rescue his lady-love.
Fun fact: The sound of an alarm clock is the sound of success. Python had attached an alarm to a bomb on Eggert. When it goes off, she goes BOOM. Basically, we have an issue here. Either Daniel saves his woman or he saves the city from the mass (heat)ionic dispersal device. But he won’t have time to save both. It’s a pickle, it sure is.
Will Daniel be able to safe both his lady and his city? Will Python make the world a warmer place? Will Lee Majors show up again? Do we get to see more hilarious shots of Daniel speed walking about town? I know the answers. Mwah ha ha…
Lightspeed was a boring movie. I held on until the 45 minute mark, and then I started timing scenes. It got dull. Either the filmmakers didn’t have enough story and used filler shots of ambulances and rest montages to fill the gaps, or they just really enjoyed those scenes. Everyone mumbled, so you couldn’t understand a word that was said, and if you managed to catch a few words, you were dizzy because the editing had all the shots leaping about and switching so fast. For those reasons, the movie is very low on the “quality” scale. There’s no excuse. Many films are well-made on small budgets which I’m sure this one had.
Needless to say, I don’t suggest this movie. It had fun points, like the funny speed-walking scenes and the hospital scene, but that’s about it. Everything else was silly. Also, if I had the lightspeed-walking ability, I wouldn’t zoom to my local sports store. I’d get as far from the bad movie as I could. Just sayin’.