The Terminal Man (1974)

THE TERMINAL MAN (1974)
Article 2806 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-12-2009
Posting Date: 4-19-2009
Directed by Mike Hodges
Featuring George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart
Country: USA

A man suffers from a mental condition that causes him to become homicidal on occasion. Scientists install chips in his brain designed to stop the violent episodes when the conditions that bring them on appear. The operation appears to work, but the scientists discover a flaw in the concept that could make him even more dangerous. Unfortunately, by that time, the man has escaped from their care and is on the loose…

You don’t need to be an expert on Michael Crichton to know about his basic theme of technology going wrong, and if you keep that in mind when watching this movie, you know basically what’s going to happen very early on. The appeal is in the details, of course, and I find the description of the central flaw in the process to be a very compelling little detail that sounds quite convincing. In fact, once this point in the story is in reach, the movie has the makings of a neat and tense little thriller. Unfortunately, the movie is shot with a somewhat arty feel to it that is a little too distancing, and it remains distant when it should really be pulling you into it. Furthermore, the arty touches make the movie feel like it should be more complex and original than it is; all in all, the story is very standard, and it jars a little with the artiness, especially when the movie breaks into cliche territory. It’s a shame; this could have been a tense little variation on the serial killer theme.

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