Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Top Line (1988)

Tell me this doesn’t sound awesome. Franco Nero stars as Ted Angelo, a former novelist is visiting a remote Columbian jungle. While there, he discovers a UFO. Hoping to cash in on this extraordinary find and revitalize his career, he attempts to sell the story. This triggers an onslaught of government agents, organized crime members, neo-Nazis, extraterrestrials and even a cyborg. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, it’s not. This sci-fi action flick has all of the ingredients for a fun romp, but never utilizes them correctly. Enemies pop out of nowhere, as if ripped from an arcade game. Most of them being agents and crooks. The aliens and cyborg only pop up sporadically. They don’t stick around for too long.

Franco Nero does his best with the material. He brings that cheeky charm of his and mugs at the camera for all it’s worth. One scene in particular perfectly encapsulates this. After discovering the UFO, he rushes home to phone a publisher. His description of his find is reminiscent of a young teen finding his father’s nude magazines.

Even Nero gets bored with the movie after awhile. There are quite a few times he’s seemingly sleepwalking through his performances. As if the film’s slow pace and lack of excitement has dragged his spirit down. I started feeling bad for the fellow.

As I mentioned, this film suffers from terrible pacing. Nello Rossati’s pacing makes a snail resemble Michael Johnson. It becomes nearly unbearable trying to trek through this story. It’s so simple, yet takes forever to be told. The first half hour alone barely moves, as if it’s stuck in a standstill.

There are two car chases in this film that also suffer from Rossati’s decelerated pace. One made sense, but simply went on too long. That would be when Ted, while on foot, is being chased by a criminal through a cactus patch. The crook isn’t trying to catch up with him; he’s torturing him.

The other car chase is inexcusable. The same crook lost track of Ted. Angelo has hopped onto the back of a watermelon truck and is hiding under a sombrero. When he is found out, a car chase ensues… at low speed. It does end with Ted niftily using eggs to take out the baddie, who goes tumbling down the mountain.

The other enemies don’t make much of a dent. A cyborg randomly pops up near the end, but barely does anything. Same goes for the aliens, though I’ll give credit where credit is due; their makeup was fantastic. As for the neo-Nazis, I honestly can’t even remember them. Was that a typo on Mill Creek’s part?

“Top Line” is like a lot of other 80’s direct-to-video action titles. It promises a lot, but delivers very little. The director seems more concerned with quickly churning this out than taking his time in perfecting it (or at least making it enjoyable). Nero, bless his heart, does his best. There’s just not much for him to work with.

“Top Line” also goes by the alternate title of “Alien Terminator”. It’s probably a good thing my copy didn’t go by that (even though it would have suited the Sci-Fi Invasion pack better). My hopes would have been much higher, even if I knew a film with a title like that wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

MVT: Franco Nero. He carries this film, though he completely drops it constantly. That’s not necessarily his fault, but you catch my drift.

Make or Break: The slow pacing and dull action sequences. There’s not one in particular I can pinpoint as being the concrete break. They all run together, which is why I’m including them as one whole break.

Final Score: 4/10


  1. Thanks for the warning, Justin. Don't you hate it just a little more when a movie which seemingly has tons to love absolutely whiffs it?

  2. Just wondering, are Top Line and Alien Terminator different cuts? I just ask as TL is an 18 and AT is 15.
    Not that it really matters, judging from the review.