They knew how to bait me. The good people at Artisan Entertainment assembled a cast bigger than life for “Cutaway,” and as soon as I laid eyes on that beautiful poster I was hooked and ready to be reeled in.
Tom Berenger. Stephen Baldwin. Dennis Rodman. Casper Van Dien. These guys are superior individual actors, but together they form like Voltron to force their will upon the film industry.
Berenger is the head, the leader. His filmography is ridiculously long and reached critical acclaim in 1986 when he was nominated for Best Actor for his work in “Platoon.” He turned his focus to rentals in the mid-’90s with “Chasers” and “The Substitute,” feature films showing his ability to move to the straight-to-video realm.
The right arm is Baldwin, one-fourth of the legendary Baldwin Brothers. Baldwin used to dabble in feature films like “The Usual Suspects” and “Fled” but has since smartened up and stuck with the VCR.
Rodman, former NBA rebound champion and WWF gimmick, forms the left arm. Rodman quit basketball to be a full-time movie star, breathing life into previously played-out Van Damme flicks. But his time in the spotlight is over, and he too has gone the video route.
Van Dien is the right leg, no small feat considering the company he is keeping. Van Dien got his big break playing the lead in “Starship Troopers.” But you could see in his eyes the desire to bypass the theater. His next move was to star in the Christian classic “The Omega Code,” a weird (but sweet) movie about the Apocalypse. Don’t plan on seeing him on the big screen again.
There is no left leg. This Voltron is handicapped.
So it’s pretty obvious “Cutaway” has the right people in front of the camera, but is the story crazy enough to bring out their full potential? You better believe it. After a career of stunt doubling and skydive coordinating, Guy Manos uses his first directorial opportunity to glorify the sport of skydiving. He sticks with what he knows: “Cutaway” runs about 140 minutes, and at least half of that is filled with skydiving sequences.
Baldwin plays Vic Cooper, a U.S. Customs agent trying to make a drug bust in Miami. After some ill-fated attempts at making an arrest, he theorizes that the dealers are parachuting out of planes to make their deliveries.
Cooper works out with the dealers’ team and immediately hooks up with the only hot skydiving girl in the crew. He convinces her that he is going to “cutaway,” which means you give up everything – your family, job, house – so that you can live with the team and skydive all day.
Cooper proves to be a natural skydiver, so team leader Redline (Berenger) lets him in on the drug scam – but Cooper can’t bring himself to make an arrest. He is so deep into skydiving that he wants to help Redline win the Nationals before he arrests him.
Nationals come, and after about 15 straight skydiving sequences Redline’s team finally wins. While floating back to the ground, Cooper goes to Redline and tells him he is under arrest. Redline isn’t down for jail though, so he decides to release his chute and splats on the ground. When Cooper hits the ground, his customs bosses are none too happy that Redline died before they could arrest him. Cooper decides at that moment he wants to truly cutaway. He ditches the cops and takes the team, who don’t seem to have noticed that their leader just face planted from 1,000 feet, to train for next year.
What a movie! The best part is that we get to see Redline after he dies, and unbelievably he was still in one piece. What, you thought Berenger was going to let the film end with his body parts all over the place?