1998 was a big year for FOX television. Despite handing audiences turkey after turkey (Nick Fury Agents of Shield, anyone?), you have to appreciate their relentless pursuit to deliver genre fare. “Blade Squad” is one of the many failed attempts to build a show out of a TV movie that works as a glorified pilot. As a kid I spent a lot of time in front of the television, and I caught “Blade Squad” one dull Friday night. Suffice it to say despite its interesting concept, “Blade Squad” is a missed opportunity and really dull execution. It’s also a really unique artifact of a decade obsessed with futuristic punk and neon colored dystopias.
“Blade Squad” is set in the near future of the nineties where roller blading police enforcers with jet packs strapped to their backs roam the streets of LA fighting crime and patrolling for criminals. For some reason no one uses cars, horses, or motorcycles anymore, but hey–who am I to question the logic of this movie? “Blade Squad” is essentially built on introducing its heroes and gritty characters, all of whom mix and bash heads as a ragtag bunch of avengers. It has a lot of ground to cover in ninety minutes and does so in typical television fashion by clunky exposition by way of a police procedural. One of the best aspects of this TV movie, though, is hearing the entire cast try their hardest to muster up a New York accent.
Considering they’re all in LA, it’s kind of odd, but I guess it makes them sound hardcore. The pilot movie consists of the adventures of the Blade Squad, all of whom operate out of a large dilapidated garbage truck where they’re monitored by their mentor who watches and guides them. During a big crime bust, officer Cully (Nemec) chases a gangster out in to the street who is then hit by a car and killed. His brother Billy (Zack Ward) is hell bent on revenge from that point on and begins infiltrating the group one by one, including Cully who is rendered disabled after a high speed pursuit ends in a spinal injury. From then on it’s a lot of really low budget action scenes, and inexplicable CGI landscapes that fail to create this weird near future wasteland. There’s also a lot of flaunting of the stunt work, so director Ralph Hemecker implements slow motion like it’s going out of style.
There are at least two dozen slow motion shots here that are so overused it distracts from any attempted tension and action that occurs on screen. A lot of the time, the chase scenes feel clunky and poorly staged. The Squad is only allowed to use their jet packs for a minute for a temporary boost and it doesn’t help that whenever the Squad uses their jet packs someone always gets hurt. So what’s the point of the cool tech? The acting also leaves a lot to be desired with cast members either sleepwalking through their character turns or chewing the scenery. This is of course the Extreme decade where the X Games were huge, so I’m not at all surprised someone figured mixing a cop show with extreme rollerblading was a good idea. The sad fact is that it’s not. “Blade Squad” is a goofy and brutally forgettable genre amalgam that attempts to concoct a new breed of a police crime thriller, but just doesn’t work. It’s no wonder FOX passed on turning this in to a series.