Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972)

          Somewhat entertaining even though its storyline is confusing and far-fetched, The Groundstar Conspiracy benefits from a sharp leading performance by George Peppard, who was always a bit more convincing playing cold-blooded monsters, as he does here, than he was playing romantic heroes. Specifically, Peppard plays Tuxen, the security boss at a secret government facility. When a major explosion occurs on the facility, Tuxen accuses the lone survivor, David Welles (Michael Sarazzin), of sabotage. Unfortunately for Tuxen, Welles was injured in the explosion, so he’s not only badly disfigured but also amnesiac. And that’s when things get loopy. Tuxen has plastic surgeons repair Welles’ face, hoping the sight of his own features will jog the accused man’s memory, and then Tuxen tortures Welles to extract information. None of this works, so Tuxen releases Welles, secretly tracking the suspect’s movements all the while, and watches as Welles finds shelter with Nicole Devon (Christine Belford), a woman he barely knows. The plotting gets sillier and sillier as the movie progresses, with what should be the central mystery—what’s going on at the facility and who perpetrated espionage to learn that information—becoming background noise.
          Like so many thrillers on the lower end of the conspiracy-movie spectrum, this picture gets so caught up in its own ridiculous machinations that the story virtually evaporates. That said, some folks might enjoy watching The Groundstar Conspiracy simply because of star power and vibe. The unrelenting cruelty of Peppard’s character is darkly compelling, and Sarrazin’s offbeat screen persona suits his role well. With his pronounced brow and bulging eyes, Sarrazine always looks a bit off, and yet he conveys great intelligence and sensitivity even in half-baked projects like this one. Leading lady Belford, an ice-queen beauty with an aristocratic quality, doesn’t fare quite as well, but of the three leads, she’s burdened with, by far, the least credible role. Based on a novel by L.P. Davies and helmed by the resourceful Lamont Johnson, The Groundstar Conspiracy has most of the things one associates with the conspiracy-thriller genre, from chases and fights to hidden secrets and “shocking” revelations. It feels, looks, and sounds like a proper conspiracy thriller. But from its muddy opening scenes to its laughably dumb conclusion, The Groundstar Conspiracy epitomizes the shortcomings of the genre while failing to demonstrate the strengths.

The Groundstar Conspiracy: FUNKY

No comments: