Nomads (John McTiernan, 1986)
[originally posted 12Dec2001]
Having read Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s adaptation of this script a few months back, I was pleasantly surprised to see it crop up on a movie channel, and I sat down to give it a go. I concluded that Yarbro’s above-average novel was written from the original script, not the finished product, and that some ham-handed editor had a field day with this thing between McTiernan and the big screen. I spent a few minutes being amazed that such a shabby cut-job made it to release, but then I remembered that McTiernan’s second feature, Die Hard, lost almost an hour of the director’s cut on initial release, too. Someone up there just doesn’t like John McTiernan, even though his films have grossed something close to a billion dollars, all told.
The story introduces us to Eileen Flax (Lesley-Anne Down), an ER doc who finds herself confronted with a violent nutzoid type who’s on his way off this mortal coil (Pierce Brosnan). Before he dies, said nutzoid bites Dr. Flax, and in some way this causes her to relive his final days. Turns out said nutzoid is Jean-Charles Pommier, world-famous sociologist and studier of nomads, and his profession has gotten him in some rather hot water. Can Flax get herself off Pommier’s track before she ends up facing the same fate he did?
Read the novel before you see the movie. Whole subplots disappear. Flax’s best friend goes from being one of the novel’s major roles to being such a minor character in the film she’s not even credited. (Not even on IMDB—that’s MINOR.) If you’ve read the novel, you’ll at least be able to figure out what’s going on; otherwise, you’ll probably say “what just happened?” at least ten times while trying to piece together what’s left of this. Unwatchable, unless someone bothers to release a director’s cut. Since it’s McTiernan, that’s a distinct possibility, but it doesn’t exist as of this writing. * ½