Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Jill Clayburgh Films
- George Segal Films
- Mind Control
- Science Fiction
This disappointing sci-fi “thriller” by director Mike Hodges (based on a novel by Michael Crichton) is, unfortunately, anything but thrilling. With its deathly slow pacing and overly clinical approach to the potentially volatile subject matter, we never become involved in the plight of any of the characters — least of all the central protagonist (though Segal, to his credit, tries his best in a sorely underdeveloped role). The first half of the film is devoted to introducing Segal’s dilemma, then showing — in painstaking detail — the “cutting-edge” surgery he willingly undergoes in hopes of regaining some semblance of a normal life. Once things go haywire and Segal begins to experience more violence-inducing seizures than ever, we follow him as he escapes and wreaks lethal havoc — against his own will — on several hapless victims. Visually, the film is quite stunning: the white-on-white sets are eerily futuristic, and there are several neatly filmed shots (such as a waterbed-turned-bloodbath). Overall, however, this tepid flick will be a disappointment for most viewers.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effectively clinical set designs
- A powerfully dark premise
No, unless you’re a Michael Crichton completist.
One thought on “Terminal Man, The (1974)”
First viewing – not must-see. Rather in complete agreement here.
What happens when a film’s first half is slow and methodical and its second half is hurried and slapdash? The film suffers considerably.
At its time of release, I don’t recall this film being much talked about. That in itself doesn’t mean the film would be bad. But I can’t imagine that word-of-mouth on this one was good. Because it ends up being kind of confusing, it’s not all that audience-friendly.
In some circles, this movie is thought of as underrated or a “lost classic”. Alas, it’s neither.
Aside from lacking cohesion, the film lacks focus in terms of protagonist. Who should we be concerned about following here? The closest the film has to a moral center is the leading character played by (the wonderful) Joan Hackett – who is certainly up to the task as an actor (with a terrific vocal quality), but the script (frustratingly) keeps her character on the periphery.
Overall, the premise is certainly interesting (and it’s likely it’s fully developed in the novel) but, yes, “disappointing” is the opertive word for this one.