By: John M Jerva
Back in the ‘90’s, the pay cable channel HBO unleashed monthly world premieres for a variety of action films starring some of the greats from that era including Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Gary Daniels and Mark Dacascos to just name a few. These select movies would hit the channel before eventually coming to home video and it truly was a great time to be an action lover.
One film to hit HBO before it’s subsequent release on VHS starred none other than RoboCop and the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That’s right, genre favorites Peter Weller and Robert Patrick teamed up for an adrenaline pumping action flick titled Decoy in 1995 and it was locked and loaded with some stellar 90’s action set pieces and even with a smaller budget, it delivered the goods along with high caliber acting from the lead stars. Weller always brings it in his movies and Patrick keeps up every step of the way.
Decoy sees Weller and Patrick starring as two former operatives who come out of retirement when they are tasked with protecting the daughter of a billionaire from a team of hi-tech mercenaries hell bent on eliminating her. Things take a drastic turn when they realize that they’ve been set up and the woman they are protecting isn’t the real daughter but only a decoy to flush out the bad guys. Hence the title of the movie.
Before the big reveal, chaos ensues as our two highly trained warriors engage the mercenaries in a series of high-octane firefights. There is a great deal of property and collateral damage to be had and genre fans are treated to an action pic that rises above the rest due to Weller and Patrick alone.
Weller stars as Baxter who, since leaving his violent past behind, has gone off the grid where he lives like a hermit. Baxter wants nothing to do with the mission at first but eventually feels he owes his former comrade Travis (Patrick) so he reluctantly agrees to go along.
Patrick’s character arc as Baxter is even more layered as he is suffering from PTSD due to his former violent lifestyle and is essentially the equivalent to Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. He’s a powder keg waiting to erupt and he doesn’t care what happens to himself or those around him for that matter. He’s hell bent on seeing if he can Jill himself but he’s just too damn good to die. This film is a shining argument for what made Patrick one of the best action stars of this decade.
The plot is simple 90’s action fare so don’t expect much and the twist is pretty much given away in the trailers and synopsis but it’s all about the action here as well as the performances of Weller and Patrick. The shootouts and beatdowns are pretty non-stop after the initial setup and the pedal is pushed to the metal as the set pieces are pretty advanced for a smaller DTV film.
One such standout scene has a rampaging Baxter screaming as he unloads his machine gun while standing on the hood of a speeding bus while bullets fly all around him. It’s scenes like this that make Decoy stand out and even though the finale is more cat and mouse, it still is satisfying and ends with the sacrifice of one of our heroes for the greater good.
In terms of supporting players, Darlene Vogel serves her purpose as Diane the supposed daughter of the billionaire. The real standout is Charlotte Lewis (Excessive Force, The Golden Child). She plays Katya who is one of the heavily armed mercs and she’s a real femme fatale who gives our heroes more than they can handle. She comes off as a more sadistic version of Lara Croft and she steals the show and is heavily involved in the numerous action sequences. Her draft is pretty damn satisfying to boot.
Don’t listen to the negative reviews on Amazon, IMDb or other sites as Decoy delivers exactly what is expected. I never understood some of this bashing to these types of films and I feel it’s done on purpose.
Overall, Decoy is a definitive cut above other 90’s action fare. Weller and Patrick elevate the script and have great chemistry together and they both bring their aura of gravitas as usual. The action is relentless and heart pumping and if you can find this one then by all means grab it and watch it on a Saturday night. It has practical effects and stunts as is a good example of what makes these years great. This is certainly a lesser known entry from the decade that needs more love from action aficionados and I revisit it multiple times to this day. A sure fire crowd pleaser.
I’m on a Peter Weller kick as of late so watch out for my upcoming Action Rewind for his later Cannon Films goody Fifty/Fifty which teamed him up with Robert Hayes. That one has always been a favorite of mine. Weller and Hayes are spot on together and the action and finale are most satisfying.