Def-Con 4 (1985)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Action, Sci-Fi Disaster Film  |   Run Time - 91 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This odd little entry into the 1980's cycle of post-apocalyptic sci-fi films is modest but entertaining stuff for genre fans. Def-Con 4 has an interesting structure, starting as a claustrophobic drama between astronauts aboard a ship before returning to earth. The events of the second and third acts will be of a more familiar variety to genre fans but the script has an attentiveness to characterization and theme that helps it rise above many of its post-apocalyptic competitors. Paul Donovan's direction is solid if somewhat hampered by budgetary limitations. His action scenes are a bit lacking in visual pizzazz but he makes up for that with an ability to get good performances from his cast: Tim Choate makes a likeably atypical hero, Maury Chaykin brings a quiet intensity to his role as a pragmatic survivor and Kevin King lends an amusing cold-bloodedness and intelligence to his role as the youthful king of the wasteland. In short, Def-Con 4 is not as challenging or bracing as other post-apocalyptic efforts but its thoughtfulness and attention to small details pays off nicely, making it worth a look for genre buffs.