Class of 1999

This SCI-FI swill is the brain-child of director Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984), who says it's really about "kids and the future of urban public education." No, it's not. It's about kids and teachers kicking ass for two benumbing hours. What a waste. Just the sight of Stacy Keach, looking crazed in a white wig and red contacts, raises hopes for a trash wallow. As head of the Department of Educational Defense, Keach has reprogrammed three combat-trained androids, played by Pam Grier, John P. Ryan and Patrick Kilpatrick, to teach the three Rs to the dregs of urban youth.

At Kennedy High School, students check their guns at the door, snort the latest drug ("edge, man – it's a better high than skin") and engage in a violent incident every two hours and thirty-eight seconds. No wonder the weak-kneed principal, played by that aging Clockwork Orange rebel Malcolm McDowell, needs Keach. It's either shape up these louts or crawl back to Nixon High.

Though the androids are programmed to educate and discipline, they soon lose interest in the former. Grier kicks a student in the crotch, Ryan chokes another, and Kilpatrick finds gym a handy place to snap a few necks. The movie plays like a Board of Education revenge fantasy until the students revolt and it becomes a rehash of The Blackboard Jungle on acid, er, edge. Either way, it's all fury and no fun. Give Keach and McDowell an A for effort. Kick the rest back to Nixon.

From The Archives Issue 579: May 31, 1990