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Terminal Velocity entertains with humor, actions

TERMINAL VELOCITY

Directed by Deran Serafian.

Written by David Twohy.

Starring Charlie Sheen and Nastassja Kinski.

Loews Copley Place.

By Kamal Swamidoss
Staff Reporter

Don't judge this film by the first 15 minutes: Otherwise, you'll think you know how they came up with the "terminal" part of Terminal Velocity. Be patient, and you'll see a few good action scenes, as well as some funny lines, from the stars.

The story starts as a group of former KGB agents sneak a 747 full of Russian gold into Arizona. They plan to launder it and finance a military coup of their homeland. Nastassja Kinski was a part of this group, but she has left them and is now trying to stop them from fulfilling their evil plan. She finds out about a local daredevil skydiver (Charlie Sheen), and she tricks him into helping her. Does it seem unbelievable? Well, it is, but it makes for an entertaining story that has suspense, action, and comedy.

Charlie Sheen fans will find that Terminal Velocity pales in comparison to The Chase, which recently came out on videotape. Sheen has a more interesting part in a more interesting story in that film. The Chase is just a funnier action-comedy, probably because Terminal Velocity was focused more on suspense and action than on comedy. That's too bad, because Terminal Velocity doesn't fully make use of one of Sheen's best abilities. However, the action scenes use him well.

People will be comparing action movies with Speed for a long time, and they'll be hard-pressed to find one as entertaining. There are some excellent aerial scenes in Terminal Velocity that rank right up there. The most amazing one has Sheen, Kinski, and a big red Cadillac plummeting to earth from a cargo plane. But compared to Speed, this film has far too many slow parts. That movie redefined the action film, and Terminal Velocity doesn't fare well in comparison.

That's not to say that Sheen and Kinski do a bad job. On the contrary, they play their parts well throughout the film. They have an on-screen rapport that really helps the story. They're effective in both action and comedy. Kinski is the one in charge, the one who knows the whole story, while Sheen is trying to figure out what's going on. He's usually the one with the funny lines, regardless of situation. His one-liners make every scene, action or comedy, that much more entertaining.

Sheen and Kinski are forced to accept all of the audience's attention. The bad guys don't say much, and when they do say something, it's generic bad-guy stuff. The other skydivers are more a part of the background than they are of the story. There's much potential for creating other stories with these characters, but nothing comes to fruition. The story with Sheen and Kinski is the only one presented to interest the audience, and the other characters aren't developed as well.

But you don't look for character development in an action film. You look for big explosions, impressive stunts, and stars trying to get out of dangerous situations. When it works, Terminal Velocity has all of that; unfortunately, it doesn't have enough. Many (maybe too many) minutes are spent in conversations. When it's between Sheen and Kinski, this helps to create their relationship. In other cases, it just tries to justify the plausibility of the plot. In all, Terminal Velocity has some really exciting action scenes and a lot of funny lines that recommend it more than does its story.