I Come in Peace (1990, Craig P. Baxley)

I Come in Peace is a Dolph Lundgren versus alien movie. It’s from the period before Lundgren went to acting classes but had gotten rid of his Swedish accent, which ends up working against the picture. The terrible one-liners might have some personality if Lundgren had some accented inflection. Or if he just lost the accent. But no. He’s monotone. He’s not unlikeable; he’s just monotone.

Brian Benben is his partner. Benben’s unlikeable but not incompetent. The bad guy–Peace doesn’t have Predator, Robocop, Terminator 1, maybe Trancers money, so the bad guy is just tall guy Matthias Hues. He’s got in opaque white contact lenses, and he grins in what someone thinks is maniacal. He’s unlikable and incompetent.

Peace has some ingredients for being a good sci-fi action camp, but it always messes them up. Lundgren without the accent, Hues in general, Benben. Then the supporting cast. First is Lundgren’s girlfriend, Betsy Brantley. She’s got too good of timing for the movie. Director Baxley likes to blow things up and shows his most enthusiasm when there are pyrotechnics going off. And he’s apparently competent enough with them to convince Lundgren, Benben, and Brantley they’re safe enough they don’t need stunt people for all the shots. So when Peace goes “boom,” the booms are impressively boomy. The scenes aren’t, you know, well-directed or even better directed, but the boom is impressive.

Baxley’s also particularly bad with things like headroom. And, what’s that other sort of important one… actors. He’s terrible with the actors. The best performance in the film is Sam Anderson. He’s got one scene. It’s the same lousy material, but Anderson does better with it than anyone else. Anderson’s the vice president of the yuppie gang in the movie—The Whiteboys. Peace is shot on location in Houston (which it doesn’t really emphasize until the third act set pieces, so it’s got more a Toronto vibe), and a better movie could’ve done something with a yuppie gang. The script’s from Jonathan Tydor and David Koepp; Koepp wanted more work in the future, so he went with a possibly Pychonian pseudonym Leonard Maas Jr. (cousin of Oedipa?); one of them definitely knew what worked in Robocop. Then there’s the alien thing.

Hues is an intergalactic drug dealer, come to Earth to harvest our endorphins. How do you get the best endorphins from humans? You o.d. them on heroin then suck out their brain juices. So it’s remarkably similar to Predator 2 at times. Peace is an entirely inconsequential bad sci-fi action movie from the era of bad sci-fi action movies. It’s a knock-off twice removed but still (academically) interesting.

Good guy alien Jay Bilas is trying to stop Hues, Houston is their battleground, Lundgren is the toughest cop in the city with a heart of gold and great taste in wine, of course, titans will collide. It’s so much more entertaining when you pretend the aliens are Battlefield Earth Psychlos (because they’re alien in their height and discount store Predator weapons). I Come in Peace: A Saga of the Year 1990; they wish.

Jim Haynie’s terrible as the police captain. Ditto David Ackroyd as the FBI suit (though Haynie’s worse). No one knew yet in 1990 to get actual good actors in supporting roles to legitimize a picture instead of getting good performances out of middling character actors. Or at least not Baxley.

Sherman Howard’s appropriately slimy as the lead “Whiteboy.”

For some reason, Michael J. Pollard is also in the movie.

Bad photography from Mark Irwin doesn’t help anything—especially not with Baxley’s wanting composition.

Peace is a laborious ninety minutes. Its lack of personality makes even its badness bland.

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