Saturday, June 11, 2011

Do you like Porsches? A film review of "No Man's Land," starring Charlie Sheen. One of Charlie's lines is "I hate drugs!"

A decade later Ron Howard's penchant for the subject of auto theft resurfaced with a far more violent and serious twist in the feature film "No Man's Land."[1] Howard was an Executive Producer of this action film, written and produced by Dick Wolf (and Joseph Stein). Starring Charlie Sheen (Ted Varrick), and D.B. Sweeney (Benjy Taylor), it is a tale of luscious cars, camaraderie among thieves, and one beautiful and rather innocent young woman. Sweeney is cast as an undercover cop, while Sheen plays the role of a cocky rich kid turned master auto thief and ring leader. Rookie cop Benjy takes on the identity of mechanic Bill Ayles, and gets a job at Technique Porsche, a shop that is suspected as being a place where stolen Porsche 911s are cloned and chopped. Indeed, the film opens with a scne form this hsop in which a Prosche 911 VIN number is being cut from the frame of the car, while its speedometer and steering wheel are being removed. (Too bad that the parts shown actually came from a Prosche 356, while the car shown is a 1980s Porsche 911 Targa!). As the plot evolves, mechanic Bill not only develops a friendship with master thief Ted Varrick, but also Varrick's gorgeous sister. Gaining Varrick's confidence, Ayres teams up to steal a number of Porsches, but their success leads them into a conflict with a rival gang. As the undercover cop gets deeper and deeper into the ring, where does his allegiance lie? In the end the violence turns deadly, the romance goes sour, and Ted is shot to death by his former friend Bill.

"No man's Land" highlighted the significance of the chop shop in organized auto thievery, a place where "every car gets a new life." Skilled thieves stole 1980s Porsches with only "Slim Jims," slide hammers, and some force to break a steering wheel lock. Aided by insider collaboration from both the police and "a guy at the DMV," these thieves thrive at the expense of the wealthy, some of whom no doubt live the "life style of the rich and aimless." There seems to be no sympathy expressed for the car owner in this film, and perhaps its greatest virtue are various scenes in which Porsche 911s are driven hard on the street. And the real danger in doing this kind of crime was not from the police or the actual act, but from rival rings and contested turf.

[1] "No Man's Land," DVD, Orion Pictures, 1987, MGM Entertainment, 2003.

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