Got to say I've never been a massive fan of C Thomas Howell. I remember him mostly from ET and The Hitcher and he was a pretty good child/teenage actor but grew up to be a kind of odd-looking adult. However The Sweeper blew all my preconceptions about him out of the water. In this he's totally badass cop, with a big goatee, killer sunglasses and a 'House of Pain' baseball cap. Although occasionally he mixes it up with a bandana but he still manages to make that look cool too.
So Howell plays Mark Goddard, your classic maverick cop who plays by his own rules. In a rather detached prologue we see him as a kid whose father (also a cop) gets killed by criminals in his own home. Flash forward twenty years and Mark is two steps from getting kicked out of the police for using excessive force. It's at this point that the mysterious Molls (Ed Lauter) steps in and recruits Mark in a clandestine black ops organisation that takes out the bad guys that the cops can't. Mark agrees to join but how much does he really know about these guys?
I've got to say my knowledge of PM Entertainment's movies isn't very wide (certainly far less than Ty and Brett's). I've caught the odd one here and there like Recoil and Riot when I've been watching Gary Daniels back catalogue but apart from those the only one I've definitely seen is their craptacular debut Shotgun - an amusingly poor riff on Lethal Weapon. It seems like these movies were on TV all the time in America but we never really got them in the UK. Not when I was growing up anyway.
Basically all you need to know is that throughout the 1990s PM made cheap movies with silly throwaway plots but stuffed them jam packed with awesome, highly creative stuntwork. And this flick is no exception. It's a veritable buffet of stunt work. There's a brilliant car chase involving gas exploding canisters, multiple shoot outs with lots of messy squib work and a rooftop chase that ends with Howell "going Punisher" on a bad guy and hanging him by the neck from a rope. Honestly, their stunts put a lot of big budget movies to shame. There's no digital effects here (they couldn't afford it) just straightforward, death defying stunts.
Howell is actually pretty good as Mark and there's nice support from Jeff Fahey, Ed Lauter and even a little cameo from Felton Perry (no doubt in reference to his role in Magnum Force, which also revolved around vigilante cops going above the law). Between this and Death Wish 3 Ed Lauter is fast becoming a walking sign post for crazy over-the-top action movies. I like that even though the film was very cliched they stuck in some humourous bits like when a group of drug dealers discuss getting their cocaine production ready for school children on Monday morning! I've got to say that's a horrible business plan, Friday or Saturday makes way more sense, kids will have spent their pocket money by Monday.
I don't really want to criticise the plot too heavily. It is what it is. At times I kind of felt like they'd figured out the action scenes first then strung them together with a few bits of plot. I mean the bad guy makes his getaway in a bi-plane of all vehicles! And at times PM's over-reliance on stunt work spoilt things a little - there were several times when you clearly see Jeff Fahey's stunt double is someone else which took me out the film a bit.
Overall though this was an above average flick that's got me interested in checking out more of PM's work. It's the kind of film you can easily picked up from a DVD store's bargain bin. But just because it's called a bargain "bin" doesn't mean it's trash!
To read Ty and Brett's original review click here http://www.comeuppancereviews.com/2012/05/sweeper-1996.html