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Movie Review: Absolon

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There is no energy left in Christopher Lambert. His words are tired, gestures weak, light hurts his eyes and cinema gives him heartburn. The glory avenues, the ones he used to walk, now lie in the past. Sighs are all he can muster, flatlined breaths toneless and hollow. Shame has descended and agitation grows from the disappointment. The latter we share, both him and us. The star’s light shrinks to a dim flicker.

What contrast, what change! The heights, we used to barely see them, such was their majesty. Now not even the memory stays: only the memory of the memory, remembrance of the heavenly heights, a few fleeting images retained during the plummet south. The horizon offers nothing — no Highlander, no Mortal Kombat, no Fortress. The Lambert laugh can’t be heard, nor can the cheeky grin be seen.

There was a time when brilliance sang from each pore, when each stride easily dazzled onlookers. Lambert was admired, worshipped even, a receptacle for compliments and well-wishes. He was officially France’s best export, replacing the Eiffel Tower as the country’s icon. He was born heir to the French intellectual tradition and lived as a successor to its erudite radicality. Lambert never called himself a Structuralist, nor did he ally himself with Marxism. He left the nouveau roman to itself and shunned Oulipo. Despite being only eleven years old at the time, he stood back during the tumult of May ’68 — ‘let others have the limelight,’ he said.

Lambert channeled his polemics into his art, brandishing heady ideas on the nexus of art and life. Thorns were driven into archaic doctrines, philosophies got ripped in two. He created a dialectical shitstorm from which emerged the truth of Lambert’s vision: a world shorn of needless ideas, needless fussing, needless restriction, a world of open paths and open minds. Yet, like Baudrillard and his despair at the exhaustion of ideas, Lambert took needlessness too far.

All was well up to a point, monies and kudos flowed from success. Highlander exemplified the period. But then a shocking event: there stood Lambert, fly undone, pissing all over everything. His determination to destroy the needless led him to destroy the things we needed, and these things ended up being soaked in his piss.

Unable to live with himself, Lambert threw himself down the stairs, an act which we now call Absolon.

EXCURSUS: Geneticists have for years been trying to track and isolate the Lambert gene. Its existence has been a rumour since the time of Galen, who saw in Lambert and the four humours an odd harmony. In 1962, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins, the men who discovered the structure of DNA, failed to show up in Stockholm to collect the Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Later it turned out that they were busy working on the Lambert gene. But finally, in 1999, scientists cracked it. While working on a blood sample taken from a llama, Dr. Callisto Burton observed that a particular gene the llama possessed had almost all the traits of the Lambert gene. Further study proved conclusively that this was the case. A report called ‘The Lambert Gene: Why Christopher Lambert can now mate with llamas’ was later published in the journal Genetic Research.

Absolon presents for our examination a picture of the future. The prelude informs us of a catastrophe: a new disease has emerged and killed most of the planet’s population. That’s a bad thing. Luckily, a scientist creates a drug that nullifies the symptoms, enabling the users to continue to live providing they keep taking the drug. That’s a good thing. Sadly, the owner of this drug is an evil corporation who use it for power and domination. That’s a bad thing. Thankfully, the scientist creates a proper cure to wipe out the disease forever. That’s a good thing. Then he gets killed. Bad. But Lambert’s on the case. Good. But Lambert’s shite. Bad.

And so goes the story. A nasty Sci-Fi Channel-type tyranny led by Ron Perlman are the bad guys. A cop investigating the murder played by the skin of Christopher Lambert is the hero. A buxom lady scientist played by Kelly Brook is the Daily Star wank material.

At some point in the narrative, after being tricked into drinking a bubbling solution in a beaker (always a bad idea), Lambert learns he now has the cure in him. Unfortunately, the cure comes in two parts and he only has the first. Thus begins a race against time to get the sequel, and without it the only thing on the menu is death. Run Lambert, run.

Absolon is a mess of swishing HBO cameras, incongruous leaps into action and dreary reused sets. There is, however, one positive element here, one upbeat comment to be made: every now and then Lou Diamond Phillips appears. He plays the badass employee of the corporation who is charged with tracking Lambert. Reveling in every hammy moment, he runs around gun in hand, anger erupting in his eyes, a sour face ready to turn the goodies to mulch. Throughout the film, he roams the lands in search of our hero, taking the occasional minute to report to Hellboy. He’s the film’s unequivocal highlight: Absolon’s cardboard scenes have only Lou Diamond Phillips to carry the mantle of quality. He’s the beacon of light, but Lambert can’t see him, for his eyes are blind — he’s lost in the fog of cinema.

Lambert’s voice is a whisper, his face pallid, legs unsteady, he’s a man in need of a power ballad. The pain he feels must be gargantuan, the sting of his many adversaries. Not only Lou Diamond Phillips, not only Time, but also the script and memories of a better past. Lambert crawls through the film, refusing to show the slightest ounce of excitement or energy. Nothing is worn on his face except boredom. At one point, the plot has him raped by Kelly Brook (I think maybe she got him confused with Jean Reno). Now, would this change a man? Would this have the vigour return to Lambert?

Nope. If anything he seems even more lethargic after that.

Let us not waste anymore time. The true fact evident for all to see is that Lambert can’t be arsed. He’s given in, yielded to tiredness, he’s stuck on the web of the weary. Ready for his eulogy, he can barely be bothered to stand and his ears don’t work. Scream all you can but it makes no difference, the words’ll never penetrate his skull — Lambert’s decrepit body fades, corroded by the juices of Absolon.

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