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By Merle Bertrand | October 8, 2001

One of the things any decent etiquette book will advise is that one should never point their fingers. Eric Sanders (Theodore Borders) would do especially well to heed this advice, considering that, unbeknownst to him, he’s had some sort of mysterious nanotech device implanted in his hand. A device that, when fueled by anger, takes the form of a gun or some other such similarly lethal device. That’s the razor-thin premise of director Wendell D. Hubbard’s ambitious but confusing cyberpunk-lite action drama “Recoil.”
Unfortunately for the viewer, Hubbard is far too interested in toying around with non-linear storytelling techniques combined with multiple possible endings, than in elaborating on that premise. We learn, for instance, that Eric has apparently escaped from someone or somewhere with this device, but it never really becomes clear from whom or where. Similarly, it’s never quite clear who the “good guys” are or why it’s so important for them to reach the young refugee before the villain. For that matter, we never really know what the mysterious device is, how it works, or why Eric was chosen as a test subject in the first place. Any one of these questions would seemingly be important to know. That none get answered satisfactorily is as disappointing as it is frustrating.
There are plenty of nice stylistic touches scattered throughout the film, especially when it comes to transitions between scenes. Additionally, the film’s soundtrack is eminently listenable; a frisky sax-driven jazz score that only occasionally slips into music resembling that found in 1970’s era cop shows.
None of this changes the fact that it’s simply too difficult to figure out what’s going on in “Recoil.” Since much of this film is photographed way too darkly, the resulting visual guessing games only add to that confusion.
Hubbard is aiming for the kind of kick one gets when firing a Colt .45. Unfortunately, “Recoil” merely musters the recoil of a Saturday Night Special.

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