Plot: What’s it about?
A special team of government agents has been assigned to protect the “football,” which is the briefcase the president uses to launch nuclear weapons. So this team of agents is always on the clock and if something should happen, they are prepared to react with lethal and quick action. One of these men, Mike Connelly (Patrick Muldoon) was assigned to this team after his clashes with President Cahill (Roy Scheider) compromised his status as a secret service agent. It seems as though the president’s moral fabric is not the same as Connelly’s, but all the same, the agent still has a vital position within the government. The task of these men is to protect that briefcase and while that sounds dull, this time around, it will be anything but. A member of the team assigned to the “football” has broken ranks and turned on his fellow agents, which means the nuclear launch capabilities have fallen into bad hands. Now it seems as though Connelly is the sole hope to avoid an unneeded nuclear strike, but can even he manage to pull this mission off and survive?
I figured Chain of Command was a standard, by the book low budget action flick and in truth, I was correct in that assumption. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch, as it provided some decent action sequences and a nice ride. This one blends the usual gun fueled action with some pretty good dramatic scenes, with some nice suspense tossed in to level it all out. The cast is better than I figured, with such names as Patrick Muldoon, Roy Scheider, and Michael Biehn, all of whom seem in fine form here. I never thought Muldoon would work in a role like this one, but he manages to more than keep his head above water, which proves to be enough. Now by no means is this an action classic, but it surpassed all of my expectations and if you’re a fan of the genre, then Chain of Command is well worth a look. As I said, the action sequences are pretty cool, but with the budget constraints involved, the scope doesn’t match more blockbuster type genre pictures. In the end, this is a solid direct to video action vehicle, which is more than worth the cost of a rental. The folks at Studio Home Entertainment have given this flick a solid disc also, so if you’re interested in adding this title to your collection, there’s no reason not to.
The director of Chain of Command is John Terlesky, who is better known for his work in front of the camera, in such films as Chopping Mall and The ALLnighter. I had doubts about his skills as a director, but Terlesky delivered a very solid film here, even on a tight budget, which is impressive for an inexperienced helmer. I’m sure some will make note of the lesser aspects of this movie, but when you consider what he was given to work with, I think Terlesky more than served his post well, which is more than enough in this case. As I had mentioned above, I was unsure if Patrick Muldoon could pull off an action driven role, but he proved his worth here. Now, his skills still need some work in certain respects, but I think he has shown signs of improvement. If you want to see more of Muldoon, I recommend Starship Troopers, Black Cat Run, Arrival II, and Stigmata, as well as playing Kelly’s boyfriend Jeff in a couple episodes of Saved By The Bell. The rest of the cast here includes Roy Schieder (Jaws, Blue Thunder), Michael Biehn (The Abyss, The Art of War), Sung Hi Lee (Nurse Betty), Ric Young (The Corruptor, Seven Years In Tibet), and Maria Conchita-Alonso (The Running Man, Predator 2).
Video: How does it look?
Chain of Command is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given the direct to video nature of this film, this transfer is a good one, although the limited budget is evident at times. A few of the darker scenes don’t come off well, as detail seems lower than it should be, but on the whole, the contrast is well balanced and allows for a solid level of detail. In other words, don’t be too worried about it, but I do think it needed to be mentioned here. The colors look bright and bold here also, with natural flesh tones present and no signs of bleed or smears. I saw some small instances of edge enhancement, but no serious compression problems can be found here. In the end, this is a very good transfer, although some small problems keep the score down to an extent.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc includes a 2.0 surround track, which is a little limited at times, but seems to more than handle the basics here. The more conservative scenes sound terrific here, the subtle background effects are crisp and the music also comes off very well in this mix. The dialogue is clean and always easily audible, which is good, as much of the story unfolds through the vocals. I was a little let down when the action kicked in, as this mix isn’t as active as a full 5.1 track would be, but the elements still seem solid. I do wish this one sported a 5.1 track for those action driven stretches, but in the end, this is an effective track that doesn’t disappoint. This disc also includes Spanish subtitles, just in case you might need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a trailer for the film, as well as some talent files. The main supplement is an audio commentary track with director John Terlesky and actor Patrick Muldoon, which proved to be well worth a listen. The two seem to be having a lot of fun here, as they discuss all sorts of topics, including some of the film’s lesser points, which was very amusing. If you like the flick, then by all means, give this track a spin to learn more about it.