Back in 2019, when going to the cinema was still a thing, one of the more heartening sights was seeing how well Linda Hamilton has endured; a top star from the mid 80’s onwards, she’s best known as the iconic Sarah Connor from the Terminator films, but that was only one of a series of substantial action roles. Harley Cokeliss’s 1986 sci-fi techno car-chase thriller probably wasn’t her finest hour, but she’s kinda great here as a professional auto thief called Nina.
Of course, it’s hard to envisage anyone imagining a blockbuster action film revolving around the world of elite car thieves, road racers and CIA agents masterminding spectacular heists; anyone proposing such a story to a major studio would surely be run out of town on a rail. But a post-Escape from New York John Carpenter managed to persuade studio heads that his Black Moon Rising script would be worth filming, and the result has A-list talent in service of a decent B movie idea.
Kick-ass thief Quint (Tommy Lee Jones, too craggy to ever be young) is persuaded by the CIA to help steal some evidence for an upcoming DA case; Quint hides the floppy disk in the bodywork of the prototype Black Moon sports car, which runs on water and can hit speeds of over 300 miles an hour. The car is stolen by the resourceful Nina (Hamilton with the biggest of big hair) who works for a group of car-jacking grifters who report back to crime boss Ryland (Robert Vaughn). Quint and Nina begin a steamy affair complete with vibrant Kenny G sax solos, but soon the lovers put thoughts of the bedroom aside to mastermind an elaborate heist/rescue of the Black Moon, which involves an assault on two massive skyscrapers owned by Ryland.
Perhaps one day a blockbuster will tackle the world of professional car jackers; if they do, it’ll be hard to beat Black Moon Rising’s big set piece; a sports car smashing outwards from a glass skyscraper with such force that it travels through the air and crashes through the windows of another sky-scraper; let’s not be coy, it’s exactly the stunt as featured in Fast 7. In fact, Carpenter really could easily have a nice little law-suit if he felt like it, but he seems to have been disinterested enough in the result never to see it. It’s not just that he predicted the Fast and Furious template, but he predicted the movie that it took them seven films to figure out.
As a Saturday night time-passer, there’s lots to enjoy here, with on-the-cusp stars, well-filmed street-level car chase action, Bubba Smith from Police Academy, plus cameos from Keenan Wynn and Richard Jackael. Shunned by most critics and audiences back in the day, Black Moon Rising’s high-tech shenanigans have gained in charm over the years; as a prototype for the Fast and Furious movies, it’s 300 miles an hour ahead of its time.
This one is also revived via Arrow Video in the UK, 99p or for nothing with a free trial by clicking the link below.