Title: Control Factor
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Starring: Adam Baldwin, Elizabeth Berkley, Tony Todd
Director: Nelson McCormick
Well it's time for some good ol' fashioned SyFy cheese, and with three notable stars present this is one that could easily be one of the better releases; possibly the only Baldwin not related to Alec, and of Firefly/Serenity fame, that chick from Saved by the Bell (and Showgirls, a film I bet she rather hoped everyone would forget) and Tony Todd, the poor man's “Samuel L. Jackson” who has been in more films than I can count, ranging from the respectable to the... well to regularly appearing in SyFy flicks which says it all really. But no amount of acting talent – and certainly at least the two males in this flick held up their end as well as we could hope for – can compensate for the problems if the direction and script isn't up to scratch.
What starts as an ordinary day at the office for John Bishop quickly ends in a nightmare when a rogue gunman barges in laying waste to all that surrounds him demanding to see him, saying he is 'sparing him the horror,' being killed before he could complete his assassination objective. Taking a couple of days off to recover, suspicious happenings start to occur; voices in his head keep telling him to kill his wife, police detectives seem to die before his very eyes, and he seems to be constantly followed by mysterious men. Is he just acting paranoid? Just post-traumatic stress related to the incident? Was Trevor Constantine, his assailant, just crazy or was he genuinely trying to protect him from some unknown force? As he digs deeper into the strange occurrences, he soon uncovers a plot far more sinister than he could have imagined.
If you've seen anything of the sort before, the kind of conspiracy film where it will try to literally twist every obvious snippet of information and turn into something else, literally making it so 'everything is out to get you,' then it isn't long before every damn big twist that's meant to shock you comes as a slap in the face. It's shamelessly stolen elements from “Enemy at the State” and “The Matrix,” both examples of films that actually did the genre well, to transform would could have been tense into yawn-worthy. It's just unoriginal and too damn predictable, and the usual tactic with budget flicks isn't present here; the idea that if you can't do something original, do something cheesy, bloody, gory, and with plenty of hilarious effects. But the problems with the script doesn't end here, it seems to deliberately make things deliberately difficult for our lead actor, randomly shoving into their brains things like the 'emotions of a teenage meth addict.' Well bugger me if that ain't a complex range of emotions to slap into someone’s mind and ask them to act out in their current context. It's as though the director thought at the snap of his fingers the actor should instantly be able to morph his physicality into that of someone else entirely, but usually resulting in little more than excruciating and crippling neurological pain - I'd probably react in the same way if I was in his shoes - and it all might might have fared better if they limited it to one word emotions and not the entire complex emotional range of a stereotypical character.
Given the context of what this Baldwin was asked to accomplish, it's all he can do to try to keep up with just what his emotional response should be at any particular time, remembering what emotions they're bombarding him with at any particular moment, and despite this he still shines above the rest of the cast; Tony Todd only really has a limited acting range but he's entertaining to watch regardless of this, but Berkeley's only acting ability comes from having a complete lack of all emotion. She showed this in Showgirls as we saw the dead eyes of an actress realising where he career is heading and it's no different here, which presents a bit of a problem when we realise her role was actually to evoke some sort of emotional response from the audience. It could have quickly taken a nose dive into the territory inhabited by the abysmal, but fortunately it's saved at the last moment by a fast-paced script. It doesn't take long to kick off and rarely does it slow down, and whilst predictable, it is this pacing that prevents it from becoming outright boring.