Yikes! Say what you want about the 70’s, but they knew how to make a good old fashioned socially irresponsible film. Larry Peerce’s Two Minute Warning came at the end of a cycle of disaster movies, and didn’t have the iconic punch of The Poseidon Adventure or The Towering Inferno. But what it does have is a dangerous edge; this tale of an anonymous sniper who terrorises a football stadium of potential victims plays with a loaded deck when it comes to representation, and risks glamorising mass-shooters, an issue that’s even more of a problem now than back in the mid-70’s.
So that in itself may be the reason that Two Minute Warning is largely forgotten, but it’s a firmly constructed all-star drama. Several generations of stars, from Beau Bridges to Walter Pigeon gather in LA for a big game, little imagining that a killer has them in their sights. Who will the sniper kill, and who will he let live? That’s quite an unappetising proposition, particularly since there’s zero connection between assassin and victim other than a speeding bullet. How does it change our view of David Janssen’s character that he dies mid-argument with his wife? And why should we accept a sniper playing god as the pretext for a story?
Such qualms aside, Chuck Heston turns up midway to little fanfare round about the halfway mark and pulls together a team to take down the killer; his second in command, played by John Cassavetes, as a furtive look that suggests he might be a sniper himself, but in the final analysis, we get no clue who the sniper is or why he’s doing any of this, other than badness.
With ridiculous knee-jerk visuals like a line of potential targets running across the pitch towards the goals, Two Minute Warning squanders some authentic match-day footage with some questionable crowd-physics in the final, bloody scenes. Yet, as a big Hollywood production, Two Minute Warning is quite watchable in a distasteful way; you won’t make a film like this now, not least because the characters are so stock they feel like ducks in a shooting gallery.
Sigh. Obviously I still haven’t mastered the WordPress draft function, because this morning’s post somehow didn’t show as the latest one, prompting angry readers to complain that there wasn’t one. I’ll delete the original, replace it with this one, and apologise for email subscribers for the double post. I also include for posterity this comment from the hardy perennial commentor Alex Good, who located the post and left these pithy words, which I will answer forthwith. Sorry, sorry, sorry.
Alex; Hey! Where were you last night for the midnight screening of the restored Scream Blacula Scream? I had a seat saved for you.
Did you mean Chuck Heston showed up in Midway at the halfway mark?