Homeland Security (August 21/05)
That Homeland Security was originally conceived as the first episode of an ongoing television series doesn't come as much of a surprise, as It seems fairly obvious that the film was never meant to operate as a stand-alone entity (the cliffhanger ending only confirms this). As a result, the majority of Homeland Security is devoted to setting up subplots that presumably would've been resolved as the show progressed.
It's the film's cast that generally keeps things interesting even during some of the more ludicrous and overly sentimental sequences, of which there are plenty. During Homeland Security's 87 minutes, we meet: Theodore McKee (Tom Skerritt, a high-ranking official with the Department of Homeland Security; Joe Johnson (Scott Glenn), an ex-CIA agent who finds himself thrown back into the fold after 9/11; Bradley Brand (Grant Show), a rough-and-tumble CIA man charged with the task of pursuing Osama bin Laden; and Jane Fulbar (Marisol Nichols), an FBI agent who refuses to do things by the book. There are other characters thrown into the mix, including several terrorists, as the film attempts to paint a picture of post-9/11 America.
But as earnest as Homeland Security is, it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the movie's jingoistic vibe; some of these sequences play out like recruitment videos for the U.S. government more than anything else. This is exacerbated by Christopher Crowe's needlessly complicated screenplay, which emphasizes incoherent chatter over meaningful dialogue. Consequently, most of these characters remain woefully underdeveloped - something that can undoubtedly be attributed to the film's status as a rejected pilot (it's all setup with no payoff).
Having said that, the opening half hour of Homeland Security - which transpires in the weeks before 9/11 - is actually pretty interesting, with the melodramatic subplot involving Skerritt and his daughter (who he initially assumes was on one of the doomed planes) an obvious highlight. Likewise, the acting is somewhat better than one might think; Skerritt and Glenn deliver expectedly sturdy performances, while Show effectively steps into the shoes of a character that's essentially the polar opposite of his Melrose Place persona. But the bottom line is that Homeland Security simply does not work as a feature; that it's being marketed as one is exceedingly disingenuous of Paramount and it's hard to imagine anyone other than a die-hard fan of one or more of these actors finding anything here worth embracing.