I know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not that Fatal Deviation. It’s not the filmed-but-never-released Speed 3: Fatal Deviation, where Sandra Bullock is stuck on a dune buggy speeding across the salt flats, forced to finish an entire coloring book, and if she ever goes outside the lines the whole thing is wired to blow! Vultures circle as she reaches for periwinkle, her face rips raw through the sandstorm, a skateboarding dragon stands before her as James Spader crowds her ear, “Ahhh yes, a daring choice, but toe the line, my sweet.” This summer, safety is a mirage, action has a new hue…
This is the Fatal Deviation where an Irish martial artist egotistically plays himself, in a movie he co-wrote, and if anyone on set tries to do anything that wasn’t done in a Van Damme flick he has a semi-coordinated, muscle-bound tantrum. Splits between chairs – check! Kicking a tree at the behest of your unassuming trainer – check! Standing on a dirt bike and firing a pistol – thank you, god, check!
James P Bennett’s Van Damme does differentiate itself in one key way – its pants. Bennett looks like a dog wearing boots for the first time, all the time. That may be closer to the truth than I imagine. Perhaps he felt the need to class it up for the movie and thought he’d check out this new-fangled denim he’s heard so much about, unaware that their comfort improves with wear. Either way I have something to say. Dear James, I love you from the waist down.
Quote me all you want, sexuality is the least of my worries. This movie opened a racial can of worms that will leave me more a social pariah than even my taste in movies. It’s not that I’m racist (I keep telling myself), but I can’t stop thinking, “If there’s an Irish Van Damme, is there a Canadian Brando?” – the horror eh – make’em an offer he can’t refuse d’er, hoser; “Is there a Steven Seagal of Botswana?” – stage direction: man looks at camera like idiot, has slick hair; “…or maybe an Australian Dennis Hopper” – boomeranged, sir! (Editor’s Note: some Santas do exist). Korean Fran Dresser, an Afghani Shatner? I can’t be the only one wondering who is the Finnish Devito. Alright, alright, I’m being racist, I’ll stop.
For a while I had this unconscious stereotype that gay people were inherently intelligent, having to overcome the stultified aspects of society on a daily basis. Which is ridiculous of course. It’s like assuming a Chinese individual is good at math; racism of grandeur is still counterproductive.
The fact that he’s Irish really has nothing to do with the movie. It’s merely a vague adjective for just how low the budget is. The village of Trim, in Navan, the county city of County Meath, Ireland, is about as far from drug lords and full contact fighting tournaments as I ever thought I would be. So unless Rick Steve’s is a liar, which he’s not, he’s too damn boring to ever tell a lie, Bennett doesn’t have much to work with here. Boy, can he make do. The man turns the sign outside a school into 50% of his back story.
What exactly happened in those ten years at St. Claude’s Reform School Bennett wisely leaves to the imagination. The fact that historic St. Claude La Colombiere, having spent his tertianship on high kicks, gave his final vow on the Fourth Heart of Efficient Grocery Shopping, gives us a pretty good idea, however.
So our recent graduate has packed his bag full of pictures, walked five minutes back into town, and is dead set on solving the mysterious death of his father. Spoiler alert: he watched it happen and just forgot.
It might be that they had the human decency not to ask a woman to take her shirt off (instead favoring a bare-assed man running in sandals); or that the complete lack of acting gave me some slight insight into the actors as people; or ending with a gag real shows just how much fun they had shooting this thing; but I can’t help getting that twinge of proud parenthood when I watch this wretch deconstruct. Wait… I know what it is. This is criticism of grandeur! I’m probably better off being racist than forming imaginary friendships with shit movies. Aaah, too late.
Fatal Deviation is 76 minutes of bonding over bad yearbook photos and reminiscing bad crushes with a smile. Cheers to Bennett and crew! The next Smithwick’s is on me.