Review: Crimes of the Past DVD

STUDIO: Osiris | DIRECTOR: Garrett Bennett | CAST: David Rasche, Elisabeth Rohm, Eric Roberts, Chad Lindberg, John Aylward
RELEASE DATE: 4/13/2010 | PRICE: DVD $24.98
BONUSES: commentary, trailers
SPECS: NR | 91 min. | Drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby 5.1 Surround

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Imagine our delight when we got a copy of a movie with not just our favorite prolific B-movie performer Eric Roberts, but also David Rasch, who built up a generation of goodwill as the goofball Sledge in Sledge Hammer! How bad can Crimes of the Past (original title: The Spy and the Sparrow) be? Hmmm, well . . .

Rasch plays a CIA operative with the very Graham Greene-ish name of “Sparrow” who wishes to fly from his undercover existence and live in the “real” world where he has utterly nothing to live for. Besides that, he’s bitter about the fact that decades earlier — on an day he promised his young daughter he would be right back and not stay away so long — he’s caught in a botched operation with the KGB and left mutilated and presumed dead. Needless to say, he never keeps his date with his daughter. Flash-forward 26 years and the daughter, played by a very earnest Elisabeth Rohm, is a loser in her own right — a divorced, AA-failing absent mother who pines for a relationship with anyone … except dear old dad.

But Sparrow’s resurfacing also draws attention to his identity, and a grudge-bearing KGB exploits the father-daughter relationship to lure Sparrow into a place where they can finish him off.

Roberts pops up now and again Sparrow’s former-CIA buddy who counsels him on how to live among civilians. This inspires Sparrow to use his espionage skills to study his daughter and see how he might worm his way into her crumbling life.

It sounds better than it plays, as the black-and-white flashbacks shuffle get confused with the deliberately paced spy scenes, thereby diluting any drama or danger that you might expect to develop. On the other hand, Rohm uses her experienced supporting cast to turn in a really touching portrait, and her fans from her TV shows will be pleased to see her stretch her wings.


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About Buzz

Buzz McClain reviews DVDs for Playboy magazine and is a former critic for Video Business magazine. But what he really wants to do is direct.