When a computer company’s headquarters is taken over by a terrorist, only ex-cop and current janitor Nick James can save the day.
Robert Lee, 1995
When his partner is killed in the line of duty due to a moment of hesitation, Nick James (Michael Dudikoff) finds it hard to cope. He leaves the force and becomes a janitor, working for an international computer company in the near future. He develops a rapport with one of the scientists working for the company, Dr. Alex Royce (Suki Kaiser), whose father has been working on a computer program…that…puts people in computers, I think. Maybe. One fateful day, Nassim (Brion James) takes the company’s headquarters hostage. The unhinged terrorist also happens to be the man who killed James’s former partner. Being a lowly janitor, James is overlooked in the initial siege. From then on, he is the only person who can stop Nassim from stealing a virus that…will do something bad! Using his wits and police trained abilities, James must prevent disaster and win the girl and stuff.
I came to this movie (apparently also known as Virtual Assassin) in a somewhat unusual way. I was watching something on YouTube, and for some reason Cyberjack queued itself up. With YouTube’s exciting new autoplay feature, it started playing while I was distracted, and about fifteen minutes later I realised I’d been watching this movie for a while. I decided, what the hell, and watched the whole thing. It was about an hour later that I discovered that, in spite of having watched the whole movie, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. I mean, I knew it was low-rent Die Hard in a futuristic computer company (down to the Japanese guy who gets killed to further the plot), but beyond that I had no idea. What was the Nassim, the albino offspring of Hulk Hogan and Hans Gruber with his finger in a socket, trying to steal? No clue. I DID know that the hero’s name was Nick James (mostly because I was confused by whether he was called Nick or James for most of the film), and that his female partner had been fridged for his backstory (because we were told sooo many times). I was baffled by why exactly an intelligent, beautiful scientist had time for a “stoic” to the point of stony-faced silence janitor. When the actual plot kicked in at around minute 30, it took me a few minutes to adjust – I genuinely thought that the hostage crisis was a brief challenge, rather than the driving force for the rest of the plot. From then on, the film was Die Hard to the letter, including a fiery tunnel explosion, feats of unimpressive bravery (running over glass while barefoot is character-defining; Dudikoff’s tough guy moments are far less inspiring), and a scenery-chewing villain.
The movie really picks up about fifteen minutes before the end, when Nassim goes full-ball loony, forces Nick James to face his fears by recreating the exact events of his partner’s death, and ends up inside the machine. He laughs evilly from behind staticky effects that must have looked dated even when this movie came out in 1995 (the same year that the first Toy Story movie was released, for comparison). It’s utterly bonkers, which is at least entertaining. You can tell Brion James is really trying to bring it as Nassim, which is more than you can say for the sleep-walking Dudikoff, who is possibly the most boring John McClane rip-off ever. Suki Kaiser fares better as the love interest, who is defined by her relationships with her father and James, but is also spunky and smart. By far the best character in the movie is the kung-fu fighting henchwoman Meghan, played by the wonderfully named Topaz Hasfal-Schou, who kicks everyone’s ass before being unfairly taken out of the game. All in all, this movie is terrible. Watch Meghan’s scenes and then pop in Die Hard again. You won’t regret it.
Cyberjack on IMDb