Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Possibly second to only Steven Seagal as the actor who shows up the most on this rarely read website is one of our favorite actors in Armand Assante. Mr. Assante however doesn’t headline all the movies he shows up in since he may provide a support role in something like ‘American Gangster’ or ‘Two for the Money’ or show up as semi regular on a TV show or even just pop his head in on the occasional Direct to Video movie. I don’t know Mr. Assante but he seems to live by the moniker that actors are supposed to act as 2008 has him listed as being in no fewer than 8 productions, which is a workload that trumps that even of the erstwhile Steven Seagal. Unfortunately when you have this much output it can be expected that occasionally you will show in a stinker or two here and there, and when we last saw Armand Assante he had a small role in the horrific Dead Lenny, a film that put the STINK in stinky. Today we are watching Armand Assante as he plays a mall security guard like no other in the DTV thriller ‘Surveillance’, which at least is better than ‘Dead Lenny’.

Our film opens with young Dennis (Nick Cornish) who gets busted for speeding recklessly down a city street in a stolen Porsche. Why he is doing this, I not sure they ever told us, but it he had to something to get him to plot point B which we will be discussing in a minute.

Now we meet Harley who is a security guard at some lame mall, because how good can a mall be if it has one lousy security guard? Harley takes his job VERY seriously as a young man who has just used his young son to assist him in boosting some jewels will find out since Harley has just kicked his ass. Problem is Harley knows the man just stole something but he doesn’t know where he hid his booty forcing Ben (Robert Rusler) the mall manager to apologize to the man and give Harley a stern reprimand. Ben shouldn’t have done that because Harley has been keeping a real close eye on him and he catches Ben himself boosting a few Plasma televisions and has him arrested and

carted away. Of course considering that Harley has cameras every freaking where in this mall and a monitor setup that would make NASA proud, Ben is a total idiot for trying to steal stuff, but then this is a movie. Now Ben’s assistant Claire (Laurie Fortier) is the acting store manager, who Harley is a bit sweet on, but he is letting her know that he his eye on her as well.

This brings us back to Speed Racing Dennis who is on parole on a work-release program at this mall and Claire has placed him as Harley’s assistant. Dennis learns very quickly that Harley is plum out of his mind as the man’s Standard Operating Procedures are a bit unconventional at best. Dennis is also learning that a lot of the people that Harvey busts for shoplifting aren’t making it to their court dates. Perhaps it has something to do with that room in the back of the mall with the strange key that has all the weird noises, moaning and screaming emanating from it? I don’t know. Well what little sanity that Harley had left has pretty much ebbed away as has decided that Dennis and Claire are out to get him and need to leave this earth. It just so happens that Dennis and Claire ARE out to get his crazy ass leaving the serial killing security guard who carries a Glock, as opposed to a flashlight, little choice in the matter.

If Armand Assante didn’t drop so many F-bombs in this movie it could have easily passed for one of those Lifetime Network movies as it had that unique look and feel of the movies they tend to air. There was no nudity, no sex and most of the violence was bloodless, though there was a fairly cool scene that included a suction tube sucking out somebody’s eyeballs, but otherwise ‘Surveillance’ was pretty innocuous entertainment. The narrative in this thing was pretty flimsy as it just glossed over most of its major points, particularly the whole Harley the Serial Killer angle which was either tacked on as an afterthought or simply not developed enough because ultimately it was completely disposable and didn’t really add to the overall story. I never did get why Dennis stole his buddies car in the first place, and for a guy who is a Supreme Court Level researcher and a master computer hacker he sure doesn’t have much ambition since he was telling his parents how this new job as ‘security guard’ could be the career move he’s been waiting for. There was a little romance between Claire and Dennis that was also glossed over, an insane ex-manager running through the store and other disconnected plot points which did little to further this thing along, but to that effect it really didn’t have on major theme to hang its hat on, other than that of Armand Assante.

Assante ultimately makes ‘Surveillance’ worth watching because few actors can do unstable lunacy like Mr. Assante can. All of the other performances in this movie were disposable and undistinguished but Assante does his best inject some emotion and drama into a film that is fairly drab and mundane.

If you’re not a fan of the work of Armand Assante then there really isn’t much to recommend here as the story is disjointed and wandering, but if want to see a primer how to be crazy in movie, then ‘Surveillance’ does have one thing going for it in its charismatic and talented star.

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