Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)


How about that for a movie title then huh sounds like a children's weekday TV series on BBC1 or some cheesy children's adventure book. Looking at the movie poster really concrete's that theory, it looks like some hammy children's adventure book cover, like those old 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books, remember those? I half expected this to be an adaptation of a children's book but surprisingly it isn't...but the whole premise predates the Back the the Future franchise which makes you think.

So basically a young Fred Ward plays the protagonist 'Lyle Swann', also known as the Timerider...kinda. During the Baja 1000 cross-country bike race he goes off course and ends up riding into a scientific experiment that has been set up to...errm send things back in time. Without knowing what's happened to himself Swann is now biking around the wild west of 1877 and naturally stumbles into all manner of problems with hilarious results. Well not really but you can guess the type of childish stuff that's gonna happen here right.

Without trying to sound too predictable myself, this movie could easily be a spin-off of sorts to the third Back to the Future movie, watching this really made me wonder if Zemeckis took a bigass leaf out of its book. The start of the movie virtually shows us nothing more than the title character riding through the barren Mexican desert on his bike, literately that for around 20 minutes! oh and a touch of plot revolving around white coats and and their unprotected unguarded science experiment. Seriously they are conducting this major experiment in the desert yet there's no one there to safeguard it or keep people or roaming animals out the way.

Once in the wild west of Mexico Swann comes across all the things you'd predict he would such as bandits, outlaws, a lovely lady, priests and terrified locals. It is reasonably amusing how Ward's character doesn't know he's gone back in time, there are some nice moments based on that idea but most of what happens you can see coming a mile off like the locals thinking he's a demon from hell, Swann falling for the pretty female, the bad guys wanting his bike etc...I can't really complain about the cliched plot line because the film was made in 82 and back then this wasn't cliched or predictable, ditto the situations Swann gets into, nothing original or particularly exciting but back in the day it would have been different.

I did like the twist ending surrounding his great great grandmother and father, bit of a time paradox thinker which shows that had Swann never gone back in time he would have never existed. There are some loop holes though like the fact his dirt bike get left behind, it gets destroyed but its still back in time...so wouldn't that alter history somewhat? Then there's the usual old silliness of all the outlaws shooting at Swann on his bike yet failing to hit him every time. I also liked the bit of dialog from Peter Coyote (the grizzled baddie) saying had the south (Dixie) had the bike they would have won the civil war...not too sure how a dirt bike would have won them the war to be honest. Funny how the bad outlaws in this movie are from the south, because anyone from the south at that time was obviously bad.

Another thing I noticed towards the end of the movie which made me sit upright was the death of Coyote's villain (spoiler alert). In one sequence this baddie is suppose to get killed by a chopper tail rotor which is rescuing Swann. Now you see his final moment with a close up of his face, then it cuts away to screaming, but seconds later you see the character alive and well whilst you still hear his screaming in what appears to be a huge editing blunder. Either that or I'm simply mistaken which I really don't think I am because hey...its me.

Yep I'm sure there are some folk out there remember this and will be outraged at the fact I'm saying its a dull bland boring ride. Unfortunately its just that...its just really unexciting without much genuine action to keep your attention. Ward is stoic as ever and Coyote hams it up nicely with plenty of snarling alongside a western drawl, but watching some dude bounce around on his dirt bike like Evel Knievel whilst slack jawed yokels attempt to shoot him gets mighty lame mighty fast. The story only becomes really interesting right at the very end with the nice time paradox twist, up to that point its no way as cool as the movies poster makes it out to be.

4.5/10