Review: ‘Signal One’

A formula police thriller that plods along conventionally until a left-field scene near the end that features enough graphic sex and nasty violence to push the bounds of the rating system, "Signal One" will probably have an OK vid career, with theatrical chances strictly limited.

A formula police thriller that plods along conventionally until a left-field scene near the end that features enough graphic sex and nasty violence to push the bounds of the rating system, “Signal One” will probably have an OK vid career, with theatrical chances strictly limited.

Timeworn plot features Christopher Atkins, giving a bland perf, as Martin Bullet, an L.A. cop suspended for shooting an unarmed suspect. He arrives in Sydney to join the New South Wales police force and is partnered with tough Jack Moran (Mark Jackson), whose previous partner died while pursuing a mobster.

One of the many problems is that the plot hinges on the identity of a mystery killer who wears a single earring, and the characters behave as though a man wearing an earring is an unusual phenom these days.

Annoying red herrings involve a couple of dopey brothers who get their hands on the mob’s stash, scenes that pad out the running time without injecting much interest. Eventually, Moran encounters the killer and gets far more than he expected.

In addition to the by-the-numbers scripting, the casting of Jackson in the role of Moran is also something of a liability. The ex-footballer, whose acting range is exceedingly limited, has cropped up in other films produced by Phillip Avalon, but he displays minimal screen charisma in what’s supposed to be a good-guy role; he would, perhaps, be more comfortably cast as a bad guy in future outings.

Director Rob Stewart and cinematographer Martin McGrath have found some striking Sydney locations to backdrop the perfunctory chases and shootouts, but the extended climax, aboard a ship moored in Sydney Harbor, is boringly handled. Otherwise, tech credits are adequate.

Signal One

Australia

Production

A 21st Century Pictures (Australia) release of a Canealian Production, in association with Australian Film Finance Corp. Produced by Phillip Avalon. Executive producer, Neal Z. Gechtman. Directed by Rob Stewart. Screenplay, Karl Schiffman.

Crew

Camera (color), Martin McGrath; editor, Tony Kavanagh; music, Art Phillips; production design, Cathy Finlay; costumes, Jenny Campbell; sound, Leslie Fiddess, Phil Judd; associate producer/assistant director, Dennis Kiely; casting, Suzanne Johansen. Reviewed at Hoyts Centre, Sydney, Oct. 26, 1994. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Martin Bullet ... Christopher Atkins Jack Moran ... Mark (Jacko) Jackson Frankie Button ... Richard Carter Toni ... Virginia Hey Doug Button ... Alfred Bell Charlene Bullet ... Maureen O'Shaughnessy
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