The year is 2053 and STAGECOACH meets DAWG THE BOUNTY HUNTER in NEON CITY, a post-apocalyptic western where ex-ranger turned bounty hunter Stark (Michael Ironside) fills the expected Mad Max role of wasteland wanderer. Filling in for our post-apocalypse swaggering 'John Wayne' lawman figure is Monte Markham (Baywatch, Dallas) who plays the uncompromising scalawag Captain Raymond.
The place is North America, Western Federation; specifically the outpost city of Jericho where Stark has a run in with Captain Raymond who railroads him with a Snake Plisken deal into being an armed guard for the coach- er- armored bus headed to. .
However this isn't Greyhound and the streets it travels aren't exactly safe. It's a desolate post-apocalypse world out there! How do we know this is a post-apocalypse setting? For starters Mmmm barbecue dog. .
There are no labels on anything (which must make product endorsements very difficult). .
People have to wear goggles because of, uhm, the horribly bright lights of, er. .
Packs of rabid leather-clad bikers roam the desert streets. .
Mauraders on horseback prey on unwary travelers. .
And, of course, there are radiation scarred mutants. .
Aside from some brief action at the very beginning and near the end there's not a whole heck of a lot of 'action' going on here. Virtually the entirety of this movie revolves around the drama that unfolds as part of the interaction between characters as they react to events that occur en route to Neon City. Some may find this boring.
Very few post-apocalyptic movies dared to take the time to explore interpersonal relationships, much less interpersonal relationships between strangers, Neon City does just that. In doing so the complex, if dismal, layers of life on the fringes in a dystopian society are revealed in the process. It's a interesting, if overtly bleak, presentation. However this is also the movie's bane.
Potentially thought-provoking what Neon City lacks in madcap action it makes up for with dull tedious snippets of back story and character development. However it is visually interesting and provides well framed misé-en-scene moments. Alas hardcore fans of Michael Ironside and Vanity will likely come away feeling their talents were wasted despite the fact they actually put in pretty decent performances; as did the supporting actors, which included Lyle Alzado as the driver and "WKRP in Cincinnati" alum Richard Sanders in the role of an on-the-skids entertainer secretly selling bottled death. An intriguing movie. Recommended, sadly this movie is MIA on DVD so you will have to look for old VHS ex-rentals.
Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan
[This is an archived review. Originally posted here.]