The Film: 3/5
Dr. Eve Simmons (Renee Soutendijk) develops robots with the outward appearance of normal humans for surveillance purposes as part of a top secret government program. Her latest creation is Eve VIII and she not only looks exactly like Dr. Simmons but she has also been implanted with her own thoughts and feelings. During a test run in San Francisco Eve VIII gets shot in the middle of a bank robbery and goes haywire. With no way of contacting the android or shutting her down the government calls in terrorism specialist Colonel Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines) to track down and destroy the rogue robot. Dr. Simmons rides along to lend her considerable expertise as Eve VIII goes on a rampage through the backwaters of Northern California, kicking the balls of every horny hick up into their throats. Simmons soon reveals that Eve is a walking nuclear weapon primed to blow a rather large hole in the world and she has designs on living out her creator’s every repressed desire. The malfunctioning droid soon makes a beeline for the Big Apple to retrieve the son (Ross Malinger) Simmons shares custody of with her ex-husband (John M. Jackson).
The early 90’s were a glorious period for mindless action flicks. Eve of Destruction is not one of the best of the lot, but what it does accomplish makes it stand apart from the pack. You could look on it as a Terminator rip-off with a feminine slant and that would be selling it criminally short. No one likes it when their dumb action movies start dragging their heels because then you might start looking for the inconsistencies and lack of logical thinking in the plot. Fortunately for us Eve is never in danger of slowing down once the plot really kicks in. Duncan Gibbins, with few credits outside of the 1986 drama Fire with Fire and some music videos, directs with style and alongside Yale Udoff (Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession) came up with a decent story and characters who are allowed to expose their vulnerable sides in between chases and shootouts. Gregory Hines was an inspired choice to play the professional soldier McQuade. Known mostly for his skills as a dancer, Hines has proven his dramatic chops in past films such as The Cotton Club and White Nights, but the buddy cop comedy Running Scared also demonstrated he could hold throw down with the best of the big screen action heroes, just with greater restraint. His McQuade is not a joker with a colorful disdain of authority but a dedicated military man who honestly believes in protecting the lives of his fellow Americans.
Renee Soutendjik, the ravishing Dutch actress Paul Verhoeven often cast as a femme fatale in his earlier films Spetters and The Fourth Man, has the trickier job of playing dual roles that are in essence the same person. Both Dr. Simmons and her robotic clone have the same personality traits and memories, but Eve VIII is the more freeing of the two parts because she gets to be the scientist’s repressed id unleashed in a literally killer form. Just don’t call her a bitch because you will end up like the poor sucker on the receiving end of the worst blow job in recorded history courtesy of the deadly droid. Despite occasionally struggling with her American accent Soutendjik delivers strong performances in both parts and clearly relishes the fun she is having as Eve VIII, getting to fire automatic weapons with unhinged abandon and toss her pursuers into walls and through them like Wonder Woman with a head full of lousy wiring. Seasoned character actors like Michael Greene (White of the Eye), Kurt Fuller (Wayne’s World), and John M. Jackson (J.A.G.) fill out the small supporting cast well, but this is mostly Hines and Soutendjik’s show. My only complain is that the wonderful Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) is brought in for a brief and meaningless cameo as Eve’s estranged father in a subplot that goes nowhere fast. Why did Gibbins ever bother in the first place if he knew there would not be enough time for the complicated relationship to reach some sort of satisfying conclusion?
The action is shot with clarity and scope by the great British cinematographer Alan Hume (Lifeforce, Runaway Train) and the location filming in Northern California and New York City lend the production a sense of immediacy and authenticity. Philippe Sarde, a past collaborator of Roman Polanski and Jean-Jacques Annaud, delivers a pulsing and jazzy score that is the sweetest icing on the cake. If you play the main title theme apart from the rest of the film you would be forgiven for thinking it was not a soundtrack composition.
Eve of Destruction looks pretty damn good on Blu-ray. The 1.78:1 high-definition widescreen transfer is slightly compressed from the film’s original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio but the 1080p clean-up job worked wonders for the print quality that has not been done justice by more than two decades of blurry VHS tapes and subpar DVD transfers. Colors and details in the early scenes have a soft appearance to them but the picture increases within mere minutes. The only audio option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that unsurprisingly has plenty of kick in the music and dialogue, with no distortion or overlaying present. No subtitles have been included.
The sole bonus feature is the original theatrical trailer, presented in standard-definition.
Eve of Destruction is one of those movies you go into with lowered expectations and come out more entertained than you thought possible. It’s hard-charging fun with no pretensions other than to delight its audience. This latest Blu-ray from Scream Factory will make a handy diversion on a slow evening.