Pendulum (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Pendulum is a low budget straight-to-vid which is basically a crime mystery sprinkled with a dabble of political intrigue. You know the routine - the cop on the case has to deal not only with the bad guys, but also with the manipulations of the mayor and the D.A. and the good ol' boy network.

The detective in this case is a lady. In one of the strangest bits of casting in history, the role of the lead homicide detective in the Dallas police department is played by dishy Kiwi Supermodel Rachel Hunter. Say what? Oh, I grant you that the Dallas PD doesn't have any specific rules against hiring supermodels from the Antipodes, but I'll just bet that you won't find that many southern or southwestern cities with a gorgeous six foot tall Kiwi heading up the homicide department. To make matters worse, the script decided to ignore her accent. Now, I ask you, if you were working a Dallas Pawn Shop, and a beautiful blond with a New Zealand accent announced she was from homicide and started asking for your records, would you believe her? I know I wouldn't. Before showing her my books, I'd write down her badge number, call the department, and ask if this was the real deal. But none of them do anything like that. They don't even say - "where are you from?". They just answer her questions as if she were some typical bulky tough guy with a Texas twang, ala Joe Don Baker. Obviously, they see a lot of police supermodels with odd accents.

Actually, I'm not sure if Miss Hunter technically qualifies as a supermodel. I got lost in that whole "super" evolution. When I was young, we had models and stars. Jane Russell was a model. Mickey Mantle was a star. We didn't have supermodels or superstars. I'm not sure when they came along. The only "super" we had was Superman and we never confused him with a model, except for that one time when Luthor used the Pink Kryptonite on him, and I don't really want to think about that. So now I'm never really sure where "models" end and "supermodels" begin.


one woman named Alaina Kalanj shows her breasts, but  from a distance and very briefly

To tell you the truth, super or not, Hunter did a respectable, if low-energy, job on the role, and she allowed the make-up people to ugly her up quite a bit with scars and dirty hair. But Rachel Hunter uglied up still looks much better than any police officer I have ever seen, even in Norway. Unfortunately, she could do nothing to overcome the fact that she is a very tall, very beautiful woman with a New Zealand accent conducting a homicide investigation in Dallas, and nobody seems to notice that anything is unusual. The script should have helped her out by providing legitimate Texan reactions, and then the whole thing might have worked for her.


The movie is not all bad. The thing I liked about it is that she solves the mystery, but decides to do nothing about it. The film plays around with morality. At first, the powers that be and the good ol' boys want her to drop the case, but she refuses. They then suspend her, and she tries to take the case to the newspapers. Of course, that doesn't work, because the good ol' boys club includes the publisher. As it progresses, however, we see that the murder victim was a really bad human being. Now suppose you are a detective, the murder victim turns out to have been the moral equivalent of Hitler, and the killer turns out to be someone that you know personally to be a good person, and everyone wants you to drop the case? Finally, she determined that this was not the time to make a stand. The world was better off with the victim dead, and the world might also be better off with the killer free. As I said earlier, it has kind of a fresh, nuanced look at morality and law, which lifts it a notch above the usual straight-to-vid mystery.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • no meaningful features

And there are also details of which she is never aware, but we are, and these details make the ethical questions even more difficult to negotiate. Because we know that the murderer who she thinks is such a good person deep down is neither such a good person nor the murderer, even though he admitted to the crime. So that was kinda cool.

Despite the dubious casting, I though the movie was watchable genre fare. There is a major disagreement at IMDb between the one critic who reviewed the film the few voters who have rated it. He scored it one star out of five, but voters feel it is a very creditable 7.1/10. That difference of opinion represents about about the same gap as the distance between Dr Strangelove and the Bo Derek Tarzan movie.

The Critics Vote

  • 1/5

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 7.1 of 10!! (only seven voters)


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Ok genre flick except for the casting.

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