Today I watched Zale Dalen’s Terminal City Ricochet (1990)
This is the kind of film that comes when a bunch of Canadians decide to really put the punk in cyberpunk. The film takes place in an apocalyptic near future where only a handful of cities remain inhabitable, the titular Terminal City being the setting proper. Here political corruption is at an all time high, alternative media is violently suppressed and Jello Biafra is head of the secret police. Our protagonist, Alex, is a paper boy and since the paper is government owned propaganda, this is seen as a big deal in society. He winds up on the wrong end of a pair of abusive police officers though and it is decided to make Alex into a big rock and roll terrorist as a threat to help the next election. Now it is up to Alex to expose the conspiracy in which he is an unwitting pawn, you know it’s Canadian because the grand finale involves a Quebecois hockey goalie delivering a powerful monologue.
This film is also very Canadian in the subject of it’s social commentary. While it is certainly broad, it touches on a number of distinctly Canadian issues. Issues such as unfair fair trade agreements and suppression of strange and crass forms of expression. Canadian art is often overshadowed by that of nearby America thus films being made here really need government support and in their selection process lies the problem of a bias towards movies about small immigrant families in small town Saskatchewan. As a Canadian I can personally vouch for some level of frustration with how often our national broadcasting services focus on overly sentimental kitchen sink realism that is somehow both unbelievably dry and histrionic. Canadians generally don’t seem to want to be defined in any confrontational manner which has hampered a long overlooked vein of strange film making.
While deeply critical of government and the possibilities of it’s corruption, it is even more critical of privatization, which is certainly the ultimate corruption of a government’s duty to serve the people. This just continues the trend of this being an extremely Canadian film, the idea that there is a sensible and reasonable way to do things, even if we are filled with punk angst. Wrap that all up in a barrage of cameos from the Canadian punk scene of the time and this movie should be a Canadian classic but alas, it is virtually forgotten. So implore everyone to track this oddball flick down, it is a very honest look into the heart of Canadian counter culture that is so rarely celebrated as much as it should be. 5/5