The Treadmill Thriller

By Adam Lippe

paycheck3Paycheck is one of the better examples of what I call the Treadmill Thriller, in which a character is involved, unknowingly in building/devising something world altering for the government or a shady corporation, or he witnessed the building of it, and after the 20 minute set-up of this product, he spends the next 70 minutes running, constantly barely eluding capture, even though he should have been killed as soon as he was found out. The lead is always on the move and the henchman/villains are just behind him, as if they were following right behind him on a treadmill, never able to catch up. But once the lead starts to break a sweat, he gets off the treadmill, and the villains are forever behind him. An important component is the typical fear of technology in Hollywood films, where anything new is capable of blowing up/taking over the world as it will inevitably fall into the wrong hands. See The Fugitive, Chain Reaction, and the frighteningly similar to Paycheck in look and feel (and equally mediocre and forgettable) and also based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, Imposter, for other examples.

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.