Eve of Destruction (1991)

November 15th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Duncan Gibbins | Cast: Gregory Hines, Renée Soutendijk, Michael Greene, Kurt Fuller | US Thriller 91′

The Dutch actress Renée Soutendijk – who had made her name ten years earlier as The Girl with the Red Hair – is magnificent here in her only American film as Dr. Eve Simmons and her robot double Eve VIII in this fascinating cross between The Colossus of New York and Marnie. It sounded like fun when it briefly hit cinemas 30 years ago; and after waiting a quarter of a century for it to turn up on TV or on the DVD rack, YouTube once again has finally come to the rescue…

An exercise in which robot Eve is allowed out in San Francisco dressed (like Dr.Simmons herself) in the style of Hillary Clinton, inevitably goes wrong; and after being accidentally reprogrammed in Battlefield Mode she’s transformed into a seriously hot Ms Hyde who rather than heading for an army surplus store and purchasing a set of combat fatigues, instead opts for the hooker look: spending the rest of the film in blood red lipstick, a black mini skirt, high heels and red leather bomber jacket accessorised with a red Mustang (which she later swaps for a red jeep). Thus equipped, she starts making life hard for sleazeballs on the pull, a yuppie roadhog and her abusive father (played in a brief cameo by an unbilled Kevin McCarthy). Then her maternal instinct kicks in…

Obviously the people who designed Eve VIII never go to the movies, otherwise they wouldn’t  have been careless enough to make their latest secret weapon a foxy blonde who can already kill a man with her bare hands even when not carrying an Uzi. She also happens to be a tactical nuclear weapon with a 24-hour trigger (I’m sure we’ve all met women like that; and the mind boggles at what the Taliban would have made of her had she ever been deployed against them). But scariest of all she’s also carrying a lot of emotional baggage inherited from Dr. Simmons, whose memories and fantasies have been programmed into her. She reacts to the word ‘bitch’ the way Marnie Edgar used to react to thunderstorms and the colour red. The film’s writers plainly felt this made the movie ‘deeper’; but personally I would have been happier with her just sticking to being an unstoppable killing machine…@Richard Chatten


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