Def-Con 4 (1985) Film Review

I sat down on Saturday afternoon thinking, “Damn, I need a good film to watch.” After a 10 minute browse through Netflix, as per usual, I stumbled upon a film named Def-Con 4. This low-budget 1985 Sci-Fi flick had great premise, a “dystopian, post nuclear-war universe, greatly affected by the radiation released during WWIII”, I thought I’d found a diamond in the rough but the fact of the matter is… I was greatly disappointed.

Firstly, I’d like to discuss this ‘acting’, if you can call it that. I have never seen such a sorry excuse for ‘acting’ in my entire life. The line delivery sounded like it was read straight off an auto-cue and it really had a negative impact on the film. I feel slightly bad for criticizing main actor Tim Choate, who unfortunately died in a motorcycle accident in 2004, but this acting is poor. I know this guy was a good actor as his performance as Clifford in 1979’s ‘The Europeans’ but this performance was sub-par. I gave this film 1/10 for Acting.

Next up, we have the boring, tedious, generic story. I really thought I was in for a treat when I turned this on but the story could have been the same in a non-apocalyptic environment to be honest. It was too predictable, I’m not going to spoil anything but any attempted ‘plot-twists’ had no effect on me at all. If you’re a big fan of the plot to a film, try and avoid this. A good story needs to be realistic, creative and interesting rather than this dull and generic attempt at a story. I rated the story 2/10.

Thirdly, the cinematography. Cinematography is a strange one – I’m not a great fan of all these french, art-house, style films but it is still a fairly important factor in how much I enjoy a movie. Def-Con 4 had some… ‘interesting’ cinematography going on. It wasn’t AWFUL and there were a few decent camera shots and design features that impressed me. However, it was very simple for the rest of the film and really was nothing special. I rated the cinematography in this film 3/10.

Next is the films saving grace, it’s music. I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack and the guy behind this did the soundtrack for Spider-man 3 and The Grudge, two films with atmospheric soundtracks. The music in Def-Con 4 is dramatic and quite ‘epic’ at times, creating a sense of adventure which interests me very much. There’s a few fast paced pieces that help certain scenes from becoming total flops and my rating of 7/10 for the music saved this film from being a 1 star film.

The creativity of this film is something which is hard to judge. I loved the idea of the film however the generic action-survival film that I was given, greatly disappointed me. The idea of a hostile earth with mutant creatures and tribes alike that fight over food was great but I think the producers missed forgot the ‘mutant creatures’ bit which was actually supposed to be in the movie itself. Creativity Rating – 3/10.

Special Effects is a hard area to judge as many older films are more likely to have slightly dodgy special effects or stunts. However this…. was truly inexcusable. Upon gunfire, no flash, no bullet, just a loud ‘bang’ that sounds like someone sitting in a small recording studio hitting a drum very hard and some of the more ‘adventurous’ stunts that we were shown, I’m pretty sure I could do if I was given the right environment. It was simple and not very exciting. For a film about a nuclear war, the one explosion we are actually shown, looks like something from a video archive from the 1950’s, something it probably was. Special Effects Rating – 3/10.

Finally, the suspense. For a film that was supposed to be quite suspenseful, especially in the chase or capture scenes, was really not suspenseful at all. In fact, it was Soap Opera level suspenseful. In fact, this entire film was like a feature length Soap Opera set in a prison camp. It was not very tense which made it not very interesting at the times where it was supposed to be the most exciting. Suspense Rating – 2/10.

To conclude, this film was poor. I don’t know if that’s because I was expecting ‘Fallout: The Movie’ or whether it actually was a bad film. If you have seen this film, feel free to leave a comment on whether or not you enjoyed it. If there’s a film on Netflix you want me to review, comment that too and I’ll try and get round to it. 

Star Rating – 1.5 Stars

Conclusion: I’d rather WWIII actually happened, than having to watch this catastrophe ever again.



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