Trancer hunter Jack Deth might seem like a forgotten do-gooder stuffed between the pages of a yellowing dime novel. Yet he made his striking debut highlighted by neon signs in Charles Band's Trancers. The latter are weak minds hypnotized and enslaved by the main criminal element. Jack, as played by Tim Thomerson, demonstrated natural charisma.
Inevitably, the future depicted in Band's film invites comparisons with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. Although modestly budgeted by comparison, Trancers reflects choices of an enlightened filmmaking community. In particular, the chemistry between Thomerson and leading lady Helen Hunt rarely comes across as awkward or stilted.
Briefly, Jack Deth (Thomerson) gets an assignment "down the line." He can travel to the past by mentally taking the place of his ancestor while his physical self remains in the future. Once in the 1980s, his mission involves thwarting Whistler (Michael Stefani), who plans to eliminate future council members by wiping out their ancestors. Almost immediately, Jack finds himself confronted by Trancers in unexpected places.
In the all encompassing vacuum, I wish more films played around the 75 minute mark. It worked well for director James Whale. As such, it's a measure with unseen benefits: less fat, greater forward momentum and more emphasis on the essentials. Also, it's a timeline which plays to the strengths of Trancers. Because Band's film boasts several key characters, the structure can accommodate various arcs without becoming tangled or talky.
An easy film to recommend, Trancers plays very well due to Thomerson's innate comic gifts and the cheesiness of its presentation. The music, for better or worse, remains a key selling point.
Time to rhyme:
Neon lights and punk rock dancers
Such qualities found in Trancers.
Jack Deth scarred in more ways than one
His mission needs to be done.
He's hunting a bad guy
Who wants the council to say goodbye.
Jack must protect who's left
The drunken baseball star bereft.
Unseen love attracts his eye
Making him a better spy.
With a very game Helen Hunt
Trancers was hardly a runt.
Even the cheesy slow motion
Causes quite a commotion.
Tim Thomerson plays on the irony
Of a bad guy's tyranny.
He was the ideal voice
Gaining trust as first choice.
Bold and funny,
He's not in it for the money.
(Released by Empire Pictures and rated "PG-13" by MPAA.)