A little “True Lies” meets a whole lot of “Romancing the Stone” in this peculiar action comedy, which doesn’t seem to aspire to anything more than blowing stuff up pretty good and making a simplistic mess of Central American politics. Low-wattage star pairing and inane premise make for a deadly combination, as Hallmark rolls out a lame-brained addition to what’s been a prolific but mostly uninspired run of movies.
Then again, the channel is billing this 2-year-old project as a “world premiere event” from “the producers of ‘Independence Day’,” which isn’t even a true lie, inasmuch as producers Volker Engel and Marc Weigert actually worked on visual effects for that earlier film, thus explaining the emphasis on explosions.
Starring Kristin Dattilo (“The Chris Isaak Show”), the story opens with Beverly Hills princess Claire deciding to surprise her corporate lawyer fiance in Europe, only to discover that he’s not in Zurich on business but rather a mythical Central American country, El Coronado. So she zips off to find him, leading to a meet-not-really-that-cute encounter with TV reporter Arnet McClure (Clayton Rohner) covering the revolution unfolding there.
Convinced that her hubby-to-be is being held by the U.S.-backed rebels (we’re backing rebels against Latin American strongmen now? Somehow missed that memo), she joins Arnet and his posse on a jungle adventure, encountering an adorable kid, a rickety bridge straight out of “Gunga Din” and the aforementioned rebels.
The producers and director Claudio Faeh collaborated on the paper-thin script, which is told by Claire in flashback, following a murky action sequence where someone is about to be shot by firing squad. Any suspense about who that is, or how any of this plays out, should be gone by roughly the half-hour mark.
Dattilo is attractive (she’s quickly stripped to a tank top) but isn’t appealing or whiny enough to exhibit any kind of character progression from high heels to automatic weapons, and her sniping banter with Arnet doesn’t help matters.
Nor do things improve when said fiance finally appears (dashingly handsome soap star Michael Lowry, no relation, but thanks for asking), creating what’s supposed to be a romantic triangle that, alas, isn’t even an acute angle.
Frankly, even as an acquisition, it’s questionable why Hallmark would devote resources to promoting the “world television premiere” of such a generic exercise, which aside from some nice scenery (shot in Mexico) and a late drive-by John Rhys-Davies cameo as the aforementioned dictator, provides scant incentive to tune in.
So while the movie’s billboards proclaim “Love. Lies. Revolution!,” the more likely outcome is “Boredom. Remote. Click!”