Mar 21, 2018
Dean Koontz's Mr. Murder (1998) (part 4 of 11)
We immediately cut to Alfie watching the front of a hotel through his rifle scope. According to the banner outside, the Flagg Petroleum annual Christmas party is being held here. When Kingman Flagg arrives, Alfie pulls out a thin plastic tube that looks exactly like the top of a ballpoint pen refill. I’m not even going to go into the laughable way he supposedly loads the thing into his rifle.
Unsurprisingly, Alfie hits Kingman Flagg with just one shot, even though he’s across the street and the projectile is the size of, well, a ballpoint pen refill. Alfie even manages to hit Flagg in the back of the neck, which is remarkable considering the guy is clearly facing in Alfie’s direction. Flagg at first shrugs it off as a bug bite, then after a few moments, collapses into the crowd. All the other Flagg Petroleum employees rush over, either to check if he’s okay or to make sure he’s signed their Christmas bonus checks before he croaks.
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As Alfie goes to leave, he hears voices echoing in his head, and then sees ghostly images of a little girl. As it turns out, this is Marty’s daughter, and there are some painfully “fun” antics going on between Marty and his daughters at home. Marty is dressed up in a stupid cape, feathered hat, and cardboard moustache. He says he is (according to the subtitles, anyway) the “evil Grand Duke Ligeels”, plotting to overthrow his daughter’s queendom or some such nonsense.
Alfie, meanwhile, is watching all of this. Remember all that hokum earlier when General Ames said Alfie was given “a gene that carries extrasensory powers”? Well, because of this, Alfie now has a handy-dandy telepathic link to Marty and can see what he sees. Alfie just stands there, watching. (Considering he just assassinated somebody, you think he’d be a little more eager to get out of the area.) “Daddy,” Alfie says, hearing Marty’s daughters. “Daddy,” he says again, getting more cheerful. We know he’s cheerful because Stephen Baldwin turns the corners of his mouth slightly upwards.
Over at the stately manor of Daddy Oslett, Drew, Jr. has come to pay his father a visit. Drew, Sr. wants to know why he’s come, and in response, Junior turns on the TV, where a reporter just happens to be talking about the “heart attack death” of Kingman Flagg. The reporter feels compelled to explain that even though Flagg “fought to the death a takeover bid by Oslett Technologies, no foul play is suspected.” Which is a awfully strange and libelous thing for a reporter to say at this point.
Elated, Drew, Sr. immediately gets on the phone with one of his partners, who reveals that the “nephews” are ready to talk. After he hangs up, Drew, Jr. reveals a little secret: “Remember after we shut down the Triple W project after General Ames was killed in a car crash?” (The “Triple W” project?) “We didn’t really shut it down.” He then pulls out one of those lethal ballpoint pen refills. “We make these in Czechoslovakia, or whatever the hell they’re calling it these days.” (Hah! Topical!) He tells Dad that the pen refills immediately dissolve in the human body without a trace, then reveals that one of these was used to kill Kingman Flagg.
Dad gets a little testy about all this first-degree murder stuff and asks Drew to leave. Drew, Jr. protests, attempting to tell Daddy about the assassination of Red Sash Guy down in Peru. Daddy’s not interested, which prompts Drew to pout, “Like you’ve ever wanted to know anything about me!” Many a small boy grows up without a father to show interest in his hobby of turning human clones into mindless killers. So I feel Drew’s pain.
“The swimmer”, Daddy Oslett says. (I really do think that guy had a name.) “That wasn’t an accident, was it?” Junior admits that it wasn’t, and that he actually had the guy killed. He says Dad could turn him, but with the Flagg merger and $13 billion at stake, “I’m not going to be packing for Leavenworth any time soon.” Drew hints that others are in on it too, but when pressed for names, he walks out whistling.
Now that we’ve had another appearance of top-billed James Coburn, it’s time to update my running tally.
Number of times James Coburn’s character has influenced the plot so far: still zero.
Meanwhile, Alfie arrives at yet another airport. He decides to walk up to a random stranger and ask her, “What’s it like to have a memory?” He also asks what it’s like to have a “mom and dad” or “learn how to ride a bicycle”. Unsurprisingly, the woman replies that she has to get back to work.
He grabs her by the arm and stops her. “This is important,” he says. “See, it’s all just blank and that makes me really sad.” Yep, just like Stephen Baldwin’s face is just blank and that makes me really bored. Then, hilariously, he reveals to this complete stranger that the sexual encounter he just had was his “first time” and he wants to be sure it’s a real memory. “Like on television,” he says. “Like… like a television show in your head!” I don’t know what the television show in your head is like, but it’s guaranteed to be more entertaining than this one. Naturally, none of this goes over too well, and the woman hightails it out of there. (Remarkably, Alfie doesn’t threaten to shoot her.)
Alfie responds to this with a look of sadness. You know it’s sadness because Stephen Baldwin hangs his head low and looks down at the ground. Suddenly, he sees more ghostly images, this time of Marty’s daughters jumping up and down on a bed.
We then cut to Marty’s older daughter saying goodnight to her pets, which are Sheldon the snake and Loretta the lizard. Clever, no? The hamster, however, is named Bob. Then the younger daughter says goodnight to her pet Peepers, which appears to be a ceramic paperweight.
Mom and Dad enter to tuck them in. Paige says she’s about to go see if Marty’s issue of Celebs is on the newsstand yet. Marty is less than thrilled about being the subject of a magazine article. “Why do they think it’s so important to tell the world that I only have one kind of shirt?” he expositories. Yes, as it turns out, Marty owns several identical shirts, and several identical pairs of jeans, and that’s all he wears. Hmm, I wonder if this will end up being some kind of plot device later.
Paige takes off and Marty tells his daughters an awful bedtime story. Since it’s supposed to be near Christmas, it’s an awful Christmas story. Meanwhile, we see Alfie walking through the airport, telepathically hearing this story as Marty reads it to his kids. There’s no sign if he’s in as much pain as we are.
It appears the telepathic link goes both ways, because Marty is suddenly hearing recorded announcements about leaving your baggage unattended and how the white zone is for loading and unloading only. All this makes Marty sweat profusely. He attempts to continue his story, but the airport sounds in his head are freaking him out too much. He gives up, closing his book and promising, “To be continued!” They both scream out in protest. Actually, I found myself screaming, too, but for very different reasons.
Next we see Alfie boarding his plane, and a girl, thinking he’s Marty, comes up and asks for his autograph. She’s holding a copy of the issue of Celebs magazine that contains the story about Marty. (The Celebs logo, by the way, looks suspiciously like the logo for People magazine.) He looks at the article, which is accompanied by pictures of Marty and his kids with a caption reading “Spinning darkness out of California sunlight”. “West,” Alfie yells out. “West. I knew it!” Which I assume is much to the bewilderment of the autograph seeker.
Next we see a guy in the airport parking lot unlocking his car. Alfie comes along, and slams the guy’s head through the driver’s side window. Here he delivers some expository dialog, which may have been more appropriate had he said it before knocking the guy unconscious. Alfie explains that someone has his children, but he can’t take a plane because they’ll track his credit card. He steals the guy’s car, driving past a big sign that reads “Interstate 10 WEST” and zooming in on the word WEST so that we understand that Alfie has gone to look for Marty.
We cut to Marty having a nightmare about someone breaking into his house. He wakes up with a start, but, remarkably, does not sit straight up in bed yelling “NOOOOOO!!!” (Though he is all sweaty.) He runs to his study and pulls out a silver revolver. As he’s loading it, Paige walks in and demands to know why he has a gun. Marty says he got the gun when he was doing research for Deadly Twilight. Paige doesn’t want it in the house, but Marty insists they need it. When asked why, he superfluously cocks the hammer. (So I guess all that research really paid off.) Paige asks him what he’s afraid of, and in response he puts down the gun and starts crying on her shoulder.
Meanwhile, over at Drew, Jr.’s house, he’s getting a call from his lackey, who’s in Miami. Lackey was supposed to meet Alfie there, but he’s a no-show. Drew replies that Alfie checked in for his flight and did in fact board the plane. (And how does Drew know all this? Oh, yeah, because he’s eeeeeevil and he works for both a big corporation and the government, a double-whammy of evil.)
Lackey tells him that “our boy has gone AWOL.” (We learn that Lackey’s name, by the way, is Carl.) Drew then pulls up a map of the US on his Palm Pilot-like device (which has remarkable resolution for a handheld, by the way). Two red lines travel across the map, and when they meet, a red dot flashes, sending off waves. This of course means he’s triangulated Alfie’s position, but you knew that, right? Drew tells Carl to meet him later that day in Phoenix, which isn’t anywhere near where Alfie’s supposed to be on this map.
At a rest stop, an old guy comes out of his mobile home wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He sees Alfie sitting on a bench, fidgeting with one of his shoes. “A little do-it-yourself shoe repair?” the old guy asks. Alfie replies that “my company must have some kind of way of tracking me,” and that “I haven’t found any implants under my skin”, so there must be a transmitter in his shoe. The old guy, speaking for no one in the audience, just looks at him and casually says, “Makes sense.” [!?]
Alfie rips off the heel of his shoe and finds a piece of an AMD motherboard underneath. We see Alfie get an idea in his head as he watches the old guy walk back to his mobile home and affectionately embrace his wife. The two appear to be quite a happy couple, which in a movie like this one effectively drops their odds of survival to about zero.