The Brunching Shuttlecocks Features

Okay, I'm on my computer in my bedroom and I'm hacking into a high security video game web page to steal an upcoming game. I've dodged all the virtual security traps, found the one file I want and am in the process of downloading the game in a move that will mint me mega-bucks. Unfortunately, my entire plan is foiled by my six year-old sister who trips a random red beam of light that for some reason is hooked up to my computer and causes the program to stop downloading.

Am I a mastermind?

Now I'm a big bad bald guy in the process of holding the richest kids in America hostage for millions of dollars. I'm well-armed, my plans are in top shape, I know every move the Police and FBI are going to make. Unfortunately, my entire plan is foiled by a teenaged kid on a skateboard.

Am I a mastermind?

If the answer to these questions is no, then one wonders why the movie is, in fact, called Masterminds. But then one realizes that the film-makers probably had some trouble with the movie's original title, Die Hard 4: The Early Years.

Take Bruce Willis, make him 15 and give him a private school to trash and you've got yourselves the plot of Masterminds. One boy against a bunch of armed men, most of whom are foreign. The one place where it deviates from the Die Hard script is that no one dies. Bullets fly everywhere, things explode, people scale rooftops and no one gets hurt. The only true casualty is the school itself, which pretty much gets blown to bits. Shoddy masonry work.

Some young kid plays the kid and Patrick Stewart of "Conspiracy Theory" and "Jeffrey" plays big bad bald guy. They're good. Throw in an Oscar winner as the crotchety old principle and perennial fan favorite Matt Craven as the kid's dad, and you've got yourself a fine cast. The stand out is Stewart, who cut his teeth on TV's "I Claudius." He owns every scene he's in, totally in command of the situation. From the moment he first contacts the authorities with his demands to his admiration of a kid who, in his eyes, could lead the next generation of master criminals to incredible riches, he is the man.

This movie is for kids. I mean, what 14 year-old pimple-faced dweeb hasn't wanted to blow up the school? For that matter, what 14 year-old pimple-faced dweeb hasn't begun drawing up schematics of the buildings and locating key fuse boxes? For that matter what 14 year-old pimple-faced dweeb hasn't begun stockpiling weapons and planting plastic explosives across the football field?

But enough about me.

The events of the movie go from plausible to downright silly and even Stewart's incredible acting prowess (you may remember him as the cruel maitre d' in "LA Story") can't save the film from a rather ridiculous end.

Still, it's a good romp for the kiddies, and all should partake if they want to see what Die Hard's John McClane was like as a kid. I swear, you can't take him anywhere! I give Masterminds 2 1/2 Babylons. That's it. Back to class, all of you!

Editor's Note:

I was watching this film with The Critic and I knew, I mean I just knew I'd seen that Stewart guy before! So I looked him up on the Web (handy thing that Web) and sure enough, he played Doc Armstrong in Lifeforce! Now that was a movie!

Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Roger Christian
Starring: Vincent Kartheiser, Some Oscar-Winning Chick, Perennial Fan Favorite Matt Craven and Patrick Stewart (best known as the voice of Adventure in "The Pagemaster").

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