Dir: Tom Hillery, Jack E. Bell
Star: Lauren Staerck, Jack Ilco, Romulus Hotea, Stephen Staley
A truly terrible effort at a spy thriller, I’m not sure which are worse. Is it the “Russian” accents, or the feeble attempts to recreate Las Vegas, in what is clearly something closer to a Holiday Inn Express in the London suburbs? I’m giving the latter the edge, considering the majority of the cast can’t even pronounce the city correctly, calling the place “Los Vegas”. It’s where a supposed “Technicians and Artists Conference” is happening: yes, it’s a T&A convention. Or maybe it’s “Technical”, nobody seems entirely sure. Anyway, Wherewithal Music are there, demonstrating an anti-piracy system which could end counterfeit music. There is only one copy of the application, because that is totally how software development works. It’s given to company employee Christopher Ingersoll Anderson (Ilco), who’s at the convention with colleague Roger St. George (Staley).
Out to steal the product are the Evil Russians, who have sent agents Mikhail Horshev (Hotea) and Innocenka Donova (Staerck) to the trade show, where they are part of the “Russians are Revolting” revue: he’s a magician, she’s a singer. Again, it’s hard to say which is worse: her singing, her red hair or her Rrrrrrussian ahhhkcent. She is such an obvious foreign agent, she might as well be wrapped in the red flag, and delivering (badly) an enthusiastic rendition of Kalinka. There’s also a secondary mission, where she’s seeking information about a shadowy, Illuminati-like group called the American Central Economic Committee. Conveniently, Christopher’s uncle just happens to be a member. What are the odds?
Truly terrible from start to finish, this fails to re-create Moscow, Las Vegas or even Los Angeles – at the end, we discover that’s where the headquarters of Wherewithal are supposed to be, which is a bigger twist than anything the script can consciously provide. Why the makers didn’t simply set everything in London is unclear, especially given a budget, according to the IMDb, of only $40,000. Guess this would have required too much logic, something which is clearly missing in every aspect of the production. The litany of poor choices runs from the casting through Donova’s a cappella cabaret “performances” (top), to the telegraphed conclusion. Although the last does at least explain the woeful incompetence of Wherewithal’s employees, particularly in the area of information security.
Part of the problem is that every male falls over themselves at Innocenka’s feet, which is fairly ludicrous. I mean, while I’d not kick her out of bed for eating crackers, she’s hardly a femme fatale. She’d probably merit attention if she was cosplaying Black Widow at some convention – and it feels like she’s dressing up as a Russian asset here too. I knew I’d probably made a mistake when the Jagged Edge Productions logo came up, since they were the people responsible for Dinosaur Hotel. Whatever talents they may have, these clearly are just as limited in the area of “international” industrial espionage capers, as in prehistoric mayhem. I think they may be cosplaying as a film production company.