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Guardian (September 14/01)

You know, it's movies like Guardian that give straight-to-video movies a bad name. It's cliched, boring, badly acted, confusing and for a so-called action movie, it's surprisingly lacking in action.

Mario Van Peebles (he went from directing critically-acclaimed films like Panther to this?) stars as a U.S. soldier on an overseas mission. One night, a bunch of psychos start shooting up a camp he's been assigned to protect. In the midst of the bullet-flying melee, a baby is kidnapped. Years later, it turns out that said baby is now the key to unleashing Armageddon. Van Peebles must ensure that the kid is protected from various evil forces, while occasionally making time to kill miscellaneous bad guys.

This is a pretty terrible movie. Despite some good actors (Van Peebles, James Remar), Guardian is just the sort of flick you'd expect from something that debuted on video. But lately, that's changed. Some very good movies have made their premieres on video (Panic and Things You Can Tell By Looking at Her being two recent examples). Despite that, though, renting a movie that never made it to cinemas is still a crapshoot. But the general rule of thumb has always been avoid anything with Eric Roberts or Casper Van Dien, and you should be okay. Now, it's a little trickier.

Not that Guardian looks that great from the box or anything, but the premise is decent (if a little hackneyed at this point; how many end-of-the-world flicks do we really need, anyway?) and the cast isn't terrible (besides Van Peebles, there's Remar - a character actor best known for scene-stealing roles in big-budget action movies), so by all accounts, it shouldn't have sucked this hard. But it did. Credit the director and the low-budget for that. The movie just looks cheap. Early on, there's a sequence set in the Middle East, but it's clearly a set. And the special effects that pop up towards the end of the picture are about as convincing as Corey Haim pretending to be a girl.

Skip Guardian. It's not worth the time it takes to go rent it, or the energy you'll expend sitting restless in your chair.

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