Directed by #RishMustaine
The prospect of filming a zero-budget action-comedy, set in the Middle East, involving time-travel and explosive set pieces is a daunting challenge to say the least. When you also add veteran Hollywood tough guy Michael Madsen into the mix, and a minuscule crew of eight to pull off the project, the situation could pass for Hollywood comedy itself. Hats off then to producer-director and co-writer Rish Mustaine for delivering Dead on Time to the screen, regardless of the end results.
Moshin Dewar (Mohamed Zouaoui) is under hot pursuit by the clandestine military agency ‘Black Halo’ for possessing a miraculous invention which enables him to rewind time. Eager to snatch the device from Dewar, Black-Ops boss Mike McGuirk (Michael Madsen) dispatches ageing action man Tom Bruise (John Sjogren) to intercept Dewar. Accepting the assignment, Bruise sets off to track down Dewar, unaware that McGuirk is operating for darker forces.
With a bizarre plot (no explanation is given as to how Zouaoui has been able to survive a freefall airplane crash, let alone develop the ability to stop and replay time) and obviously cheap production values, Dead on Time runs the risk of stopping dead in its tracks from the word go. “Some days it was just a cameraman and actor and a mic positioned close by”, Mustaine says. “We knew we were limited and so we made the core of the movie, the themes”.
The director’s honest approach is admirable and, even if Dead On Time doesn’t exactly work thematically, it at least has fun along the way. Sjogren and Mustaine’s screenplay is light-hearted, fast-paced and, crucially, treats the whole set-up with a knowing wink. Sjogren and Zouaoui enjoy a comic chemistry and their misadventures through rounds of Russian Roulette, Arab terrorist camps and war-torn countryside play out like a demented blend of The Odd Couple, The Deer Hunter and Rambo. One of the more memorable scenes has the hapless heroes driving through miles of picturesque desert, triggering a lengthy, amusingly angry rant from Sjogren on the complexities of the “real-worlders” in America. Perhaps the funniest moments though are between Sjogren and his over-zealous military pal, with wrestler Colt Cabana clearly relishing the screen time in probably the film’s best performance.
Wrapping up in 94 minutes, Dead on Time doesn’t outstay its welcome. It may miss the mark in its jab as an action blockbuster but, given its no-budget scope, it’s an interesting shot and enjoys a few pokes along the way.