Jack Hunter and the Star of Heaven
So now we come to the final chapter in the adventures of Jack Hunter. For my take on part 1 (Jack Hunter and the Lost Treasure of Ugarit) and part 2 (Jack Hunter and the Quest for Akhenaten’s Tomb), follow their respective links.
At the end of part 2, evil, beard-wearing German Albert Littmann (Thure Riefenstien) had managed to escape Egypt with a legendary staff and an idea of where to look for a companion artifact. Part 3 begins with the NSA trying to apprehend Albert in order to gain possession of the staff. When Jack Hunter (Ivan Sergei) interferes with the operation, he gets taken in to NSA headquarters in Turkey, where he provides evidence that the second artifact Albert is searching for was in Constantinople at one point. So off he goes, meeting up with Nadia Ramadan (Joanne Kelly) once more to find Albert and try one last time to take the staff from him. As the treasure hunt continues, it becomes necessary to enlist the help of Nadia’s old flame, leading to several betrayals. Finally, during the ultimate confrontation, a lot of people die, things explode, and the earth is saved once again by Jack and Co.
Look! A betrayal!
Before I begin my critique, I realize that I need to retract something I said in my review of part 2. Therein, I claimed that Albert had an unexplained character reversal by making the choice to keep Jack, Nadia and Tariq alive while showing no hesitation to kill tens of miscellaneous workers during the first episode in the miniseries. However, in the third part of the series, he directly articulates that he wants to keep Jack alive in order to work with him. So I apologize, Albert; I mistook your seeming change of heart for Bond-villain stupidity when it was, in fact, compassionate stupidity. I’m sorry. Now, on to the critique.
In this final installment of the adventures of Jack Hunter, we have yet another car chase, this time through the streets of Istanbul. Ignoring the overdone use of car chases through the streets of big cities in action movies in general, there’s a moment where Jack mentions how remarkable it is that he’s still being followed, after all of the evasive driving he’s done. What he seems to be forgetting is that it shouldn’t be too hard to follow someone, even at higher speeds, when they only make two, maybe three turns total. I’m not an expert driver, but I do suspect many people would be able to follow him through those two or three turns. Especially when it looks as though they don’t get going much faster than about 40 mph or so (though that estimate is a wild guess, and based on nothing whatsoever).
There was one scene in this episode with horrendous CGI, and it wasn’t what you’d expect. There were no monsters in the series, very few supernatural occurrences, and overall, very little use of special effects. Except for one unfortunate scene with fire. Some thugs light a pool of gasoline on fire, allowing the flames to make their way to a gas tank, causing it to explode in order to kill our heroes (who, needless to say, escape in the nick of time). But rather than film, you know, actual fire in a controlled environment, they use CGI flame that stands out so badly from the rest, it’s hard not to notice how fake it is.
Our heroes, more concerned about losing their passports than about the fake fire they “barely” survive.
I’ve written before on the use of flashback montages in movies, and while part 1 of Jack Hunter had one montage on which I remember remarking while watching the episode, I was willing to overlook it as it was also mixed with images from the present and generally served to demonstrate Jack’s grief at the murder of his mentor. Then part 3 of Jack Hunter came around. This time, the montage was used to drill into the viewers’ skulls the idea that Nadia had in fact finally fallen in love with Jack and Jack with Nadia, and that they were coming to terms with that. But anyone – anyone – who has seen movies of this nature before knew, from the beginning, that they would overcome all their differences and end up together, at least for a time. Viewers are intelligent, on the whole; they don’t need a five minute montage of scenes from the miniseries to remind them that Jack and Nadia care about each other. Part 3 made that pretty clear on its own, and the buildup while watching parts 1 and 2 only helped add to that. But, much as I am doing right now, the director decided to spell out every last reason why they fall for each other, and ends up with a fairly eye-roll-worthy scene.
Now to the end of the miniseries. By the end of the episode, Albert has both artifacts – the staff and a ring that fits on top of it – and is getting ready to sell them to the Russian mob. Jack has already called the NSA to let them know where the deal is happening, but he, Nadia, Tariq and Nadia’s former fling drive out there to try to stop Albert because the NSA might not get there in time. In order to distract the half-dozen machinegun-armed Russian mobsters, everyone gets out of the car and then Jack sends it directly into the meeting between Albert and the lead Russian. Naturally, all the lackeys open fire with their machineguns and, this being an action movie, naturally the car explodes. Completely. Big fireball, shrapnel, no more car – all from machinegun fire aimed at the engine of the car (not even the gas tank). Later, using a confiscated machinegun, Jack manages to do the same to a helicopter. Mythbusters demonstrated that this was essentially impossible, unless using the right ammunition from the right distance. In other words, both car and helicopter should have survived the final scene.
Left – the third member of the evil beard society (the lead Russian). Right – the guys who open fire on the NSA.
I’m gonna take a moment now and address Hollywood. Hey, Hollywood. I know you like big explosions and bullets, and what could be better than combining the two? Well, have you thought about realism? You make so many action movies that try to be mostly realistic, and then this sort of thing comes along. Stop. Just stop. Cars can still be incapacitated by bullets – bullets can destroy engines, they can cause fuel leaks, they can put cars out of commission in so many ways; just stop allowing bullets to cause cars to explode. Okay? Okay. Glad we had this talk.
Anyway, eventually the NSA shows up – I’m talking twenty or thirty agents in tactical combat gear (bulletproof armor, actually good guns, etc.) in order to take down the dozen bad guys with no such protection and not even any cover (the NSA agents have rocks and such to hide behind). So the Russians do the smart thing and surrender, right? Of course not. They start shooting, as though that’s a good idea. To me, this makes no sense at all, and of course, the Russians all end up dead. Of course, so does the NSA team, but that’s because it turns out that the staff and ring, when combined, form a really big laser gun, which Albert then uses to vaporize everyone (except Jack and Co., obviously). Long story short, Jack manages to disarm Albert, the staff gets thrown into lava, and Albert gets thrown in after it. (SPOILER ALERT – the bad guy dies.) Which brings me to my next point – what’s the deal with movies having characters getting thrown into fire to kill them? Look at this series, look at Lord of the Rings, and look at pretty much any Disney movie ever. The villains always get thrown into pits of fire. What’s up with that?
Ring… plus staff… equals LASER!
The last thing I need to say about this series is that it was filmed on location in Turkey. And that, to me, is pretty awesome.
So that’s it for the adventures of Jack Hunter, Indiana Jones wannabe, and for the first in the occasional Jumping Sharks feature Miniseries Week. I hope you enjoyed it, and check back here next week for more movie reviews.