My parents were big fans of the Police Academy films back in the day… they were the only movies they ever paid to
own on video, and were played pretty frequently in our house… but I hadn’t actually seen the seventh instalment, Mission to Moscow (1994), until yesterday, when it aired on Ch5. This is generally consider to be the worst of the series, and was the first to make less than a million dollars at the American box office (scraping a measly $126,247, against a budget of 10 million bucks!)… but I was still excited to see it, because of the setting and the cast.
Ron Perlman plays ‘Konstantine Konali’, a remarkably gullible and chatty Russian crimelord, who is planning to use a fiendishly addictive video game to hack into the world’s most private and protected computer systems (thanks to the efforts of a single, easily intimidated American geek… who seems to conjure the killer hack out of thin air in a matter of days!). On the other side of the blue line is Christopher Lee, playing ‘Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov’, a big cheese in the Moscow police force, who calls in ‘Commandant Lassard’ and his bumbling team of ageing Academy alumni (plus a random newbie), to help foil this dastardly plan. They’re aided by a young translator named ‘Katrina Sergeyevna’, played by Claire Forlani… who makes the most of her thankless, underwritten “local love interest” role, despite being paired with an equally underwritten wet-fish of a “hero”. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by her attempt at a Russian accent, but she brings a lot of natural charm to the screen, and was clearly meant for greater things. She also looks mighty cute in her police uniform, so that’s a bonus.
The other major female cast member was series regular Leslie Easterbrook, returning as buxom badass ‘Captain Debbie Callahan’. She gets some fun scenes with Perlman when she goes undercover to seduce him… although she’s mostly just used as eye-candy here. I hadn’t really considered her career after the Academy before, but it turns out Easterbrook’s been in two Rob Zombie flicks (The Devil’s Rejects and his Halloween remake), and is currently filming/finishing a whole slew of new genre movies… so fair play to her.
Of course, the biggest star of the movie is Moscow herself… and you have to give the film-makers credit for making the most of their locations, and sticking to their guns (as it were) to finish the shoot, despite the political unrest that the city was enduring at the time (you can still see black scorch marks on some of the buildings, from recent tank shelling!). It’s just a shame that so much money, talent, grit and access was wasted on such a god-awful, unfunny folly.