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‘Eve of Destruction’

By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 22, 1991


Duncan Gibbins
Gregory Hines;
Renee Soutendijk;
Michael Greene
Under 17 restricted

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"Eve of Destruction" is not, as its advertising suggests, a tech-driven "Bride of Terminator" but more of a psychological driller -- "Two Faces of Eve" dressed up with cheap techno-babble. Seems scientist Eve Simmons has created an advanced robot, Eve VIII, in her own image and, unfortunately, with her own neuroses. When a harmless field experiment goes awry, Eve VIII kicks into the battle mode she's been secretly programmed for and starts acting out her maker's sexual fantasies and fears. As an anti-terrorist expert chasing her down complains, "You're telling me this device is horny as well as psychopathic?"

This preposterous plot -- renegade robot in desperate need of analysis -- has promise as either comedy or drama, but director Duncan Gibbins (who wrote the script with Yale Udoff) succumbs to two major problems. First, a minuscule budget keeps all but one or two minor effects from being particularly special. In fact, Eve VIII seems mostly adept at shooting off automatic weapons until the nuclear device, apparently implanted as a diaphragm, gets triggered.

More problematic is Renee Soutendijk as the two Eves. The Dutch actress seems to waver between the bug-eyed edginess of Eve VIII and the icy antisocial behavior of Dr. Simmons without ever settling on one or the other or making either believable. Actually, Soutendijk's most obvious struggle is with her English, not her acting.

Eve VIII's rampages are all directed against men, particularly authority figures, husbands and fathers, and we eventually learn why through flashbacks and other clumsy explications made to Gregory Hines as the anti-terrorist colonel chasing Eve down.

The last half of the film has Hines looking for 57 ways to deactivate Eve VIII before she goes nuclear, which has one benefit: The last 15 minutes are accompanied by screenwide shots of detonator clocks, so you'll have a really good idea of just when this bomb finally goes off.

"Eve of Destruction" is rated R and contains violence, nudity and profanity.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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