Thursday, May 27, 2010

Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option, The - 2/5

The Substitute franchise finally comes to a close and who would of thought it would made it to four entries? I can see one, maybe two but four? I knew the series was doomed to end when I saw this DVD as a new release at our local blockbuster and they only carried one copy. One copy! They carried at least four of Substitute 3. Artisan Entertainment itself seemed to be embarrassed they made four entries and they removed the number "4" on the original DVD box art making the title "The Substitute: Failure is Not an Option." Also what's with the subtitle? Actually all the subtitles in the Substitute franchise sound like taglines as opposed to titles: School's Out, Winner Takes All, Failure is Not an Option...

Okay enough of me going off about how long the franchise went and the silly subtitles, lets dig into the plot of Substitute 4. Treat Williams returns for a third time as the mercenary Karl Thomasson. This time he is hired by a prestigious retired soldier to go undercover as a history teacher into a military school to discover why his nephew has changed for the worse. It seems the school is run by a white supremist (Patrick Kilpatrick, my favorite killer cyborg teacher from Class of 1999) who is recruiting young skinheads in order to do terrorist activities.

The writers again try to breathe new life into the overlong franchise by switching the environment yet again this time to a military school, further distancing the film from its origin about the problem with gangs in urban environments. The problem with moving the setting to a military school is that Treat Williams' character is more in his element and less like a fish out of water which the substitute was in the previous films. Since he is a military character the audience feels that his character isn't as in much danger since he is in an environment he is use to.

The look of this film has the same cheap look of the last entry no doubt to another low budget and the same director returning from part 3. The action is rather low key and the special effects are embarrassing (the exploding building brought a tear to my eye). Other than Williams and KilPatrick, the rest of the cast is again stock direct-to-video fodder that just do good enough to get the film by.

This is easily the least of the Substitute franchise but one could do worse to kill and hour-and-a-half. Treat Williams still has enough charm left in him to keep people from turning the film off but unless you're a diehard fan of the franchise I would recommend finding some action kicks someplace else. The substitute finally retired after this entry and it was due time as the franchise did overstay it's welcome by a hair.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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