A long-gestating prequel to the 2003 no-budget film Evil Cult, this not quite as cheap but still cheerful labour of love is from writer/director/star Rob Taylor (and co-writer and co-star Nic Costa). Filmed over 9 years it’s a sci-fi/action/adventure/comedy that doesn’t take itself even remotely seriously. It takes commitment for someone to keep putting their spare time, cash and passion into a project that’s unlikely to do much more than break even. That’s a true investment and one to be commended whether the film turns out great or ends up being rubbish. Considering all that, what is Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time and does it stack up as a worthwhile use of Taylor’s time?
At some point in the future the eponymous hero Neil Stryker (played by Taylor) is the very best at his job as a secret agent. The opening sequence finds him nonchalantly picking off a good number of evil henchmen before taking out his target and recovering a device. If anything he’s too good and he gets himself suspended. When The Mad Scientist - an evil genius and Stryker’s former friend - escapes from a hospital for the criminally insane, his plan of action is to kill Neil Stryker. So Stryker is quickly back out in the field, trying to find his nemesis first.
A point to make before going any further is that Taylor and those helping him know that trying to play this straight would be hopeless. Instead he takes cheesiness and a lack of polish and turns it into a virtue. Taking inspiration from all number of lone wolf action movies, tacky sci-fi, plus - it seems - the entirety of the 1980s, this is very silly stuff. If you want pointless, over the top swearing, you’ve got it. You want gratuitous nudity that serves no plot purpose? That’s here too. You want countless ideas ‘inspired’ by much more expensive films? They’re littered throughout.
Of course, it’s not that hard to just put reference after reference into something in the hope that an audience mistakes recognition for quality. But fortunately here at least, Taylor gets that. There’s an abundance of jokes, both clever and stupid. The main story is one told many times before but when it comes to action Taylor doesn’t skimp on that either. It might be cheap but it’s well put together with some skill. True, the final result is often a bit scrappy, and the restrictions Taylor and co worked within all too evident, but he should be congratulated for making a fun bit of nonsense that, if you get it and those numerous references, will most likely make you smile.
NEIL STRYKER AND THE TYRANT OF TIME / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ROB TAYLOR / SCREENPLAY: NIC COSTA, ROB TAYLOR / STARRING: ROB TAYLOR, NIC COSTA, STEPHEN LISK / RELEASE DATE: 11TH APRIL (USA ON VOD/CINEMA); UK RELEASE DATE TBA