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Crusader (August 18/05)

Director Bryan Goeres' two other 2005 straight-to-video releases, Art Heist and Face of Terror, were mindless but affable little action movies (and on that level, they were kind of entertaining). With Crusader, the filmmaker is going for an entirely different vibe - that of a '70s conspiracy flick - and though star Andrew McCarthy is actually pretty effective, this is a dull, pointless, and entirely forgettable piece of work.

McCarthy plays Hank Robinson, a idealistic journalist for a public broadcasting network who unwittingly witnesses a group of terrorists murdering a boardroom full of executives. After discovering that his camera has no film in it, Hank fortunately encounters a fellow videographer who taped the entire thing (and who conveniently passes Hank the tape just before dying, with his last words, "tell everyone the truth"). Hank, of course, passes the footage off as his own and soon finds himself being courted by the owner of a high-profile news network (played by Michael York). Though he quickly becomes a big-shot news anchor, it's not long before Hank is embroiled in a conspiracy involving one conglomerate's efforts to control the internet (which the film seems to believe could actually happen).

Even if one is willing to overlook the various absurdities within Nick Angelo's screenplay (which is certainly easier said than done, given the presence of some seriously moronic elements), there's still virtually nothing here that's able to successfully hold the viewer's interest. As expected, Goeres attempts to liven things up by throwing in camera and editing tricks, but it just doesn't work. It certainly doesn't help that the film features a storyline that's awfully difficult to follow, making it impossible to ever really get into it.

And while McCarthy does a nice job of dialing down his smarmy persona, Hank never entirely becomes an altogether convincing figure. Aside from his impressive ability to successfully dodge bullets, Hank's motives - which seem to change from scene to scene - remain muddled throughout, and his shift from downtrodden journalist to full-blown action hero is far from convincing. The supporting cast is mostly comprised of amateurs who clearly don't speak English as a first language, and although it's always nice to see Richard "Kindergarten Cop" Tyson, none of the periphery performers are able to make much of an impact.

In the end, there's not much one can say about a film that has the misguided audacity to cast Bo Derek as a hard-bitten journalist (!) and yet still manages to come off as an overlong bore.

out of

About the DVD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Crusader with a letterboxed transfer, while supplemental materials are limited to several bonus trailers.
© David Nusair