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  Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Bike To The Future
Year: 1983
Director: William Dear
Stars: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Richard Masur, Ed Lauter, Tracey Walter, L.Q. Jones, Chris Mulkey, Macon McCalman, Jonathan Barnes
Genre: Western, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Out in the Mexican desert, a group of government scientists are conducting an experiment in time travel with a monkey in a capsule. Lyle Swann (Fred Ward) is a cross country motorcyclist competing in a race who passes too close to the capsule at the critical moment and ends up transported into the Old West - with no way of getting back home...

The director William Dear co-wrote this science fiction western with its producer, Michael Nesmith. It takes some familiar western clich├ęs - the gang of outlaws, the tiny village of put-upon locals, the self-assured frontier woman (Belinda Bauer) and so on, and puts an entertaining spin on them by seeing them through the eyes of a befuddled innocent from a hundred years in the future.

Those usual elements are livened up with eccentric scenes that keep things interesting. The first people Swann meets in the past are two Mexicans who are terrified by his motorbike and his biker gear; one flees while the other unfortunately dies of fright! Also watch for Bauer shooting Tracey Walter's nose off, or head villain (played to the hilt by Peter Coyote) attempting to ride the stolen bike in front of his gun-wielding gang.

There are problems, though: Bauer starts off as an independent woman but swiftly ends up needing to be saved from the clutches of the baddies. The Mexicans are all portrayed as wide-eyed, superstitious peasants. And worst of all, it becomes clear after a while that once the film makers have Swann where they want him, they don't really know what to do with him - he just gets chased around a lot.

But having said that, the novelty of the idea saves the day, along with the conviction of the actors, who carry the story off with flair. There is a nice line in humour, which contrasts with the more serious aspects (i.e. characters being shot dead); one of the most winning parts is that Swann is unaware that he is in the past until almost the end of the film, and so is shocked at the brutality of the people he meets. That twist at the end, mind you... isn't it a bit unsavoury if you think about it? Busy Mike Nesmith composed the music, too.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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