Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Explosion (1970)

          The building blocks of a passable draft-dodger melodrama can be found somewhere inside Explosion, an American/Canadian production released stateside in 1970, but flaws ranging from an inept script to a terrible leading performance doom the picture. In the Pacific Northwest during the Vietnam War, college-aged Alan (Gordon Thompson) broods over the recent death of his brother, who had designs on avoiding military service by sneaking into Canada. Even though Alan is protected from the draft by a student deferment, he’s as intent on fleeing to the Great White North as his late brother was. Why? Explosion never provides satisfying answers to such questions. For instance, why does Alan visit his brother’s grieving girlfriend, Doris (Michรจle Chiocine), then beat her during an attempted rape? The best answer the movie can conjure is that Alan’s on, like, a heavy emotional trip, man. Eventually, Alan befriends a longhair named Richie (Don Stroud) and they travel to British Columbia, finding work at a lumber operation. Later, when the guys cross paths with a pair of cops while joyriding in a stolen car, Alan shoots the cops dead. Why doesn’t Richie run away? Add that one to the heap of unanswered questions.

          Following the cop sequence, the picture cross-cuts between scenes of the guys on the run and scenes of Alan’s shrink, Dr. Neal (Richard Conte), trying to find and rescue his patient. One imagines that cowriter/director Julies Bricken envisioned a parable about young people feeling disconnected from their country, but any hope of nuance died when Bricken characterized Alan as a one-note psychopath. Exacerbating the problem is a laughably stilted performance by Thompson, who later became a mainstay on soaps (notably Dynasty and Sunset Beach). Stroud, always a live-wire actor, does what he can playing a nonsensical role, but he’s not reason enough to watch the picture. Despite a few suspenseful moments, Explosion’s storyline is so erratic that one lighthearted interlude features a pillow fight. Seriously! On the opposite extreme, veteran composer Sol Kaplan’s score is painfully overwrought. And that’s Explosion—too much of everything the movie doesn’t need, too little of everything it does.

Explosion: LAME