Technoid Goes Down Again

Hey, guess what? Technoid escaped again. Let’s see if supercop Tom Kick can get him again…

Technoid Goes Down Again

VROOOM! VROOOM! Went Technoid’s motorcycle as it sped down the streets. Weeoo! Weeoo! Went the siren on Officer Kick’s police car as it sped down the streets after him. SCREEECH! Went the tires as they zoomed down the city streets. Suddenly, Technoid screeched into a parking lot and turned around. Now he was chasing Officer Kick! “Two can play at that game!” grinned Officer Kick as he did the same thing Technoid had done. Now Technoid was being chased again! You see, Technoid had just recently escaped from prison, and Officer Kick was trying to catch him again. Then, Technoid pushed a small button on his motorcycle, and a compartment in the back opened and an assault rifle popped out! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! It went as it fired. But Officer Kick dodged each bullet until the gun was out. “My turn!” grinned Officer Kick. Then, he rolled down his window and started to fire his own gun at Technoid. BLAM! A bullet smacked into a tire on Technoid’s motorcycle. SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECHHHH! Went Technoid’s motorcycle as it buzzed out of control. SKWA-WHOOM!!!!!!!!! Technoid’s motorcycle exploded in a huge ball of fire. He was in prison, once more.

THE END

In this one I skip the ludicrous prison escape and cut right to the chase, so to speak. This is the shortest and simplest Technoid tale, being nothing more than a short car chase.

Still, there are questions that must be asked. The most pressing relate to Technoid’s motorcycle. How exactly did he manage to conceal one of his beloved assault rifles in a motorcycle? Motorcycles aren’t that big, is he driving the Batpod from The Dark Knight?

And if Technoid had just recently escaped from prison, how the hell did he get to his bike so quickly? Did he have it stashed somewhere close to the prison in case he needed a quick getaway vehicle?

I also didn’t think much about the actual logistics of a car chase when I wrote this all those years ago. If Technoid turned around, wouldn’t he and Officer Kick be headed straight towards each other? I guess I must have figured that Technoid turned into a parking lot and then waited for Officer Kick to go by before giving chase. But why would Technoid bother chasing Officer Kick? Why not just turn the other way and put some distance between them? Again we see that for all of his pertinacity Technoid’s decision-making process leaves quite a lot to be desired.

There’s also quite a big leap at the very end of this story. How does it go from “Technoid’s bike exploded” to “Technoid was in jail” so quickly? I clearly forgot to mention the part where Technoid fell or jumped off his bike, since if he hadn’t done that he would have been toast. Like, literal toast.

Lastly, I would like to point out that my dedication to 100% accurate transcriptions of these stories was so absolute that I even counted out the exact number of E’s in SCREEEEEEECH and the exact number of exclamation points in SKWA-WHOOM!!!!!!! I never thought I would be doing that roughly fifteen years after I wrote this little story. It’s funny how life works sometimes.

Anyway, that’s it for part three. I’ve got one more of these, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think it might be the best.

Technoid Returns

Here is part two in the ongoing saga of master villain Technoid. Please enjoy.

Technoid Returns

Chapter 1

It was a dark, stormy night at the Manhattan Jail. “Hmmmm,” Technoid thought. He looked through the barred window in the door. A guard! “Perfect!” exclaimed Technoid. “They never put that striped uniform on me, and they never searched me!” An evil plan was forming in his mind. “I think I have a small explosive in my pocket here. Good! I do!” he exclaimed. “Now, if I can throw my voice to make it sound like it’s coming from over there, I’ll bet I could get out of here! Help!” he threw his voice. “Let me out of here!” “Huh?!” said the guard. He walked away to try to find out what it was. Meanwhile, Technoid had lit the explosive and pushed it out the door. KABOOM! It exploded and blew the door down. The force of the explosion caused a huge chunk of rock to fall from the ceiling and crush the guard. “Har Har!” laughed Technoid. “Now I can get out of here!” he walked over to where the dead guard was and picked up his assault rifle. MEEP! MEEP! MEEP! He had set the alarm off. Guards were coming in from all directions. FFFFT! Went the guns as they fired. Finally, Technoid got out of the jail. “At last!” thought Technoid. “I’m home free!” He jumped into a police boat and sped off into the night.

Chapter 2

The next night a robbery was committed at the local bank. 1,000,000 dollars in cash were stolen. The day after that, every man who had a firearm was robbed of it. And it just kept going. Some thought Technoid could never be stopped.

Chapter 3

But don’t worry. Technoid COULD be stopped. By Officer Tom Kick. No villain escapes when he’s on the job. The Mad Bomber Felon didn’t escape, Gruzork the jewel thief didn’t escape. Even Technoid didn’t escape (the first time). One night, when Technoid was robbing a museum, the Mad Bomber Felon showed up. “What?!?” thought Technoid. “He’s in prison! I even saw him when I escaped. Ah ha! I know who you are! You’re Officer Kick!” “That I am,” said Officer Kick, taking off his costume. FFFFFT! Went the guns. Bang! The door came blasting down with a large THUD! As it hit the floor, Officer Kick and Technoid came rolling out. SWISH! Officer Kick had snatched Technoid’s gun. Suddenly, Technoid turned and ran.

2 guards were waiting for him. He laid both of them flat with one swift punch. But then, Officer Kick appeared. He fired his gun. BANG! It hit Technoid in the leg. He fell, stunned, by the shot. He tried to get up, but his wounded leg was just too much. He passed out. When he awoke, he was in prison. Officer Kick did it again.

THE END

Well that was the dumbest thing ever.

I’m pretty sure I managed to come up with the absolute stupidest prison escape of all time. For some reason, Technoid was never searched before being tossed in the slammer, and had an explosive on him the whole time. I don’t need to explain how ludicrous that is.

But moving past that, why the hell did Technoid wait to use his hidden explosive? If he had it on him the whole time, why not use it and bust out of there ASAP? Was he waiting for the appropriate dark and stormy night or did all the noise from that nine-day shootout in the previous story rattle his brains a little bit?

To be honest, when I was transcribing this story I was tempted to modify this part of the story somehow to make it slightly less outlandish, but I decided to leave it the way it was. The whole scenario of Technoid’s prison escape is so boneheaded I’m actually a little embarrassed by it.

But let’s ignore my shame and move on.

It’s interesting to me that in the first story, despite the nine-day shootout, no one seemed to have actually died. All of the wounded policemen were nursed back to health, but in this story, Technoid kills a guard right in the beginning and laughs about it. Clearly the big T is taking no prisoners this time around.

In my first story I never said much about why Technoid was in hiding in the first place, aside from being a super-dangerous criminal. Here we see that Technoid is a prolific thief, not only making off with a million bucks cash but also managing to break in to dozens if not hundreds of homes to steal people’s guns. How Technoid knew how to find gun owners is a mystery. Maybe he has like a gun radar or something, a gundar if you will.

And did Technoid manage to steal all of those guns in one night? Geez, the guy is like reverse Santa Claus, slipping into people’s homes and taking stuff instead of leaving presents.

Fortunately, the heroic Officer Tom Kick is on the job. He once again proves himself to be a master of disguise, taking the appearance of the infamous Mad Bomber Felon to once again get the drop on Technoid. I love the names Gruzork the Jewel Thief and the Mad Bomber Felon, they sound like villains from the 60’s Adam West Batman show. Wish I had included them as actual characters.

I spend a lot of time in these stories talking about how Technoid is virtually unstoppable, but as soon as Officer Kick shows up he goes down like a punk bitch. Officer Kick is like Technoid’s human kryptonite. I sure hope they searched Technoid before tossing him back in the clink, or the squirrely fellow might just escape again…

Introducing Technoid

When I was 10-12 years old, I wrote an absolutely ludicrous series of stories about a guy called Technoid. The stories are the product of a 10-12-year-old’s grasp of storytelling, which means that they make little to no sense. I recently rediscovered these stories in a folder in my room and thought it would be fun to go through them and add some commentary.

So without further ado, here is the introduction to the terror that the world will soon come to know as Technoid. Michael Bay, I await your phone call.

Technoid

“Ah!” exclaimed Technoid. “Home at last!” he looked at his tree house and climbed up the ladder. Technoid is a highly wanted super-dangerous criminal who lives in the African jungles where no policemen can find him.

He went into his weapons room, which had over 50 assault rifles (all were his, of course). He admired them for about 5 minutes or so, and then went down the hall into his room. When he got there, he walked over to his safe, which had a stolen half million dollars in it. Jewels were mixed in with the money, too.

“Boy, it is sure nice livin’ in the jungles of Africa with no policemen everywhere you turn.” Suddenly, he heard a noise outside. Going to his weapons room, he carefully selected a rifle and climbed down the ladder, outside he saw…..cannibals!

“Halt!” one of them said, which, by its looks, appeared to be the leader. They were all armed with spears, and a quiver bulging with arrows over their shoulders. A bow was hanging on each of their arms. Suddenly, one of them ripped off his feathers and tore off his straw belt, revealing a pistol in a holster. All of the others did the same.

“Officer Tom Kick!” exclaimed Technoid, as the policemen advanced on him. “Yes!” said the officer. “I have travelled all this way just to get you and claim my reward.” Technoid pulled out his gun and said, “Stop, or I’ll shoot!” “Sure you will,” grinned Officer Kick. “Now this is war!” yelled Technoid. Bang! Bam! You could hear the guns firing from miles around. And every now and then, an occasional “Unnngh!” Then and again, a policeman would come limping into the village and have to be nursed back to health. Finally, after 9 whole days, the shooting came to an end. And Officer Kick and Technoid came on stretchers back to the village, both badly wounded. Later that day, a plane took off from United Airlines to take Officer Kick and Technoid back to America so Officer Kick could claim his reward. And that concludes this tale of cops and robbers.

And there you have it! Wow, there was a lot of dumb stuff in that story.

First off, what’s with all the assault rifles? I actually do have a specific answer for this. I got the phrase “assault rifle” from GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64. I had no real concept of what an assault rifle actually was, but I thought it sounded like something a guy like Technoid would use.

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GoldenEye 64 was released in August of 1997. I was born in September of 1988, so technically I was eight years old when the game was released. But since I never actually owned a Nintendo 64 myself (some of my friends did) I didn’t play the game until sometime after it was originally released, and didn’t start writing my goofy Technoid stories until after that, hence my estimation that my 10-12 years old at the time of the writing of these action-packed tales.

Clearly the concept of “show, don’t tell” was completely foreign to me at the time, since I have Technoid explain exactly what he’s doing in the jungles of Africa. There’s no subtlety whatsoever, I just come right out and say who Technoid is and what he’s doing there. I also like how I say that he is both highly wanted and super-dangerous, since it obviously never occurred to me that the former strongly implies the latter.

Technoid must have a gun fetish or something. Five minutes is kind of a long time to just sit there and stare at something. I like my Blu-ray collection quite a bit, but I don’t just sit in my chair staring at it for minutes at a time.

And of course there are the so-called cannibals. Obviously they’re not really cannibals, they’re police officers in disguise, but nothing about any of that makes a lick of sense. When I said “cannibals” in the story, I was thinking of grass-skirt wearing natives, like something out of Cannibal Holocaust or a particularly culturally-sensitive episode of Scooby-Doo (not that I had any idea what Cannibal Holocaust was when I was ten, so…yeah. Also, Cannibal Holocaust takes place in South America, not Africa, so it’s apparent that my sense of geography as a ten-year-old was a bit off).

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But the undercover officers disguising themselves as natives of some kind is asinine. Presumably they figured the disguise would enable them to get the drop on Technoid somehow, but they take no advantage whatsoever of whatever the element of surprise may have done for them, instead choosing to ditch the disguises immediately.

Said disguise-ditching begs another question: were the cops wearing clothes under their disguises? If so, it seems like it would be difficult to pull off the look they were going for. If not, they would make themselves extremely vulnerable during a gunfight.

And wow, what a gunfight! Nine whole days? Those cops must have brought tons of ammo with them in the clothes they may or may not have been wearing under their disguises. Maybe they used the bows and arrows.

It also makes no sense that it’s a bunch of cops who come after Technoid, as opposed to federal agents or something. What, did Officer Tom Kick round up a bunch of his beat cop buddies to go to Africa in search of the highly dangerous criminal mastermind?

Aside from all the nonsense in this story this little tale is intriguing to me looking back on it now because it shows that even from a young age I was fascinated with villains. The main character is Technoid, the bad guy, not Officer Kick, the good guy. Even when I was in grade school, the bad guy was more interesting to me on some level than the good guy.

Some things never change, I guess. It’s no coincidence my favorite superhero will always be the dark and brooding Batman instead of the all-around good guy Superman. All-around good guys are so boring.

I wrote four of these silly stories, so stay tuned for part two, because boy, it’s a doozy.

The Professional

Today it is my privilege to write about one of my all-time favorite movies, Luc Besson’s 1994 masterpiece Leon: The Professional.

The Professional is the most moving film about a guy who kills people for a living that has ever been made. I touched on it in a very old post from way back in 2012, but here I’m going to go in to much more detail, so a spoiler warning is in effect from here on out.

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Jean Reno plays Leon, a professional hitman living and working in New York City. He lives a simple life, living in a threadbare apartment with few possessions. He gets his orders from an Italian mobster named Tony, who holds court in the dining room of his restaurant. In his down time, Leon goes to the cinema to see old movie musicals (he’s a fan of Gene Kelly), does sit-ups every morning, and takes care of his houseplant, meticulously polishing every leaf so it looks nice. He sleeps in a chair in his living room every night, with a gun on the table next to him.

Leon is a gentle soul, and if he didn’t kill people for a living, you’d swear that he would never hurt a fly. One of Leon’s neighbors is a 12-year-old girl named Mathilda, played by Natalie Portman in her screen debut, in what remains one of her best performances.

Mathilda lives a tough life. Her father is abusive, her stepmother doesn’t care about her, and her half-sister is a spoiled brat who hates her. The one ray of sunshine in her life is her four-year-old brother, whom she adores. She has a couple of casual encounters with Leon, where he sees her sporting a black eye and smoking a cigarette. She tells him the black eye came from falling off her bike. Leon can tell this is a lie, but figures he can’t do much about it.

But despite her difficult family life, Mathilda is a spirited child. She is spunky and intelligent, with a spark in her eye that her jerk of a dad can’t diminish, no matter how much he slaps her around.

And it’s her dad that causes all of her trouble. Some shady fellows who turn out to be corrupt DEA agents are paying him to hold onto some cocaine for them, and they’re not happy when they suspect him of cutting the dope to keep some for himself. This leads to a shootout in which Mathilda’s entire family is killed while she is out shopping. When she gets back with the groceries, she has the street smarts to know that something is terribly wrong, and she knocks on Leon’s door at the end of the hall.

Leon has been watching through the peephole in his door, he knows that something’s up, and Mathilda knows that he’s watching her. The scene where she tearfully begs him to open the door is heartbreaking. The desperation in her voice just kills me. Leon reluctantly lets her in to his apartment, and the movie really takes off.

Mathilda quickly realizes that Leon is a hitman, although he prefers to be called a cleaner. She makes him a proposition: she’ll do all of his housework, and he will teach her how to clean. He initially refuses, but changes his mind when she proves her mettle to him.

The two of them develop a relationship. She does his housework and teaches him to read and write when she discovers he doesn’t know how, and he teaches her the tools and tricks of his trade. The relationship between the two of them is fascinating. He’s her surrogate father, sure, but it’s not quite that simple. He’s also her teacher, and she teaches him in return in ways he could never have expected.

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Movies with pivotal characters played by child actors are always tricky. It’s extraordinary how good the chemistry is between Jean Reno and Natalie Portman. In some ways, she’s more mature than he is. Leon is an expert at his profession, but he has few personal relationships and initially has no idea how to act with Mathilda. She teaches him about himself. She teaches him how to love life and gives him something to live for aside from his beloved houseplant. He loves his plant because it’s always happy, it doesn’t ask questions, and it doesn’t have roots, just like him. Mathilda tells him he should plant it someday, give it roots. Leon reluctantly agrees that he should. The metaphor with Leon’s plant is subtle in a way that most movies aren’t these days.

The thing about the relationship between Leon and Mathilda is that Mathilda is the dominant one. Reno plays Leon like he’s a bit slow mentally, and very emotionally repressed. Reno gives Leon a fascinating balance between his skills as an assassin and his simple personal life, and his gentle nature. Leon never tries to take advantage of Mathilda, and he never forces her into anything. Reno has said in interviews that he played Leon like he was mentally slow in order to make it easier for audiences to believe that he would have no sexual desire for Mathilda.

Okay, this next part is going to get uncomfortable but it has to be talked about. There’s a scene in the extended version of the movie where Mathilda tries to seduce Leon, and he turns her down. It’s an uncomfortable scene that was cut from the original theatrical version of the film, but it’s included on the Blu-Ray release. Despite the squirm-inducing nature of the scene, I feel it’s an important part of the relationship between the two of them. Describing the movie makes it sound a bit like Lolita with guns, but it’s quite a bit more emotionally complex than that.

The extended version of the movie is 24 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, and in my opinion is the better version. It fleshes out the Leon/Mathilda dynamic, it shows more of him teaching her how to be a cleaner, it gives more detail about Leon’s background, and it generally provides a fuller experience.

I’ve talked about two of the three central characters, Leon and Mathilda. The third is Norman Stansfield, the ringleader of the corrupt DEA agents who slaughter Mathilda’s family. Stansfield is played by a very young-looking Gary Oldman in what has to be one of the most bone-chilling performances ever committed to celluloid. You’re holding your breath every time he’s onscreen. Stansfield is a drug-addicted sociopath who loves classical music and feels no remorse for the things he’s done.

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I’m not sure why the DEA would hire such an unhinged madman, but maybe he’s just really good at hiding it when he needs to. I love cinematic villains, and Oldman’s performance as Stansfield is one of the all-time best. He is terrifying, and the fact that we are given no background for him whatsoever makes his unpredictability all the more frightening. Oldman’s delivery of the line “I like these calm little moments before the storm. It reminds me of Beethoven,” before he kills Mathilda’s family sends chills down my spine every time. I can hardly believe the actor who played characters as good as Commissioner Gordon and Sirius Black also played one of the most soullessly evil people in cinematic history, but that’s just how good of an actor Oldman is.

The Professional features not one, not two, but THREE of all my all-time favorite cinematic performances. Reno, Portman and Oldman are all brilliant, and Luc Besson’s writing and directing are top-notch throughout. His film raises some difficult questions, but he never pushes it too far.

As the film progresses, Leon and Mathilda grow closer and closer. And it is in their relationship that the movie shows itself to be a love story. It’s a love story between two desperately lonely people who find each other at just the right point in their lives.

Although it should probably go without saying that it ends tragically. Stansfield eventually gets on to Leon and Mathilda, which leads to an epic confrontation with the NYPD SWAT team. In addition to being a riveting action sequence, the final showdown also provides some of the most genuinely touching moments of any film I’ve ever seen. In a desperate moment, Leon provides Mathilda with a means of escape, but she won’t go without him. “I don’t wanna lose you, Leon,” she pleads with him as tears streak her dirt-smeared face.

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“You’re not going to lose me,” Leon tells her. “You’ve given me a taste for life. I wanna be happy. Sleep in a bed, have roots. And you’ll never be alone again, Mathilda. I love you, now go.” That moves me so much my eyes are all misty just from typing it.

And poor Leon, he almost makes it. He has almost made good his escape from the cops, having disguised himself as a wounded SWAT officer, but he doesn’t quite get there. He doesn’t know that Stansfield has recognized him, and as Leon approaches freedom, there’s a flash, and he crumbles to the ground. Stansfield crouches over him victoriously, and Leon sees him.

“Stans…field…” Leon croaks.

“At your service,” Stansfield smirks.

Leon puts something in Stansfield’s hand. “This is from…Mathilda,” he gasps.

Stansfield opens his hand, and sees what looks like a pin with a ring attached to it. He opens Leon’s shirt and finds a string of grenades. The vile Stansfield barely has time to mutter “Shit,” before a massive explosion kills them both.

In the end, with nowhere else to go Mathilda returns to the girls school she dropped out of earlier in the film. She gets reassurance from the headmistress that they’ll do what they can to help her, and financial assistance promised from Leon’s mob pal Tony. After she talks to the headmistress, she goes outside, finds a nice spot in the grass, and plants Leon’s beloved houseplant. “I think we’ll be okay here, Leon,” she says, and the film ends.

This movie tears me up. Not many movies have the ability to move me to tears every time I watch them, but this one does. I don’t watch it all that often because it’s such an emotional rollercoaster, but every time I do watch it, by the end I feel profoundly moved.

This movie, man. This freaking movie. It blows me away. I think it’s easily Luc Besson’s best film. He juggles so many different aspects of the story and the characters, and makes it look easy. Some of the film’s content is troubling, but never so much so that it becomes too much to handle. Leon kills people for a living, and he kills several policemen in the film’s climax, and yet he’s an incredibly sympathetic character. This is a movie where the protagonist is a hired killer, and the antagonist is a government agent. Besson takes the usual setup for a hitman movie and flips it neatly on its head. The hitman doesn’t kill women or kids, the government agent does.

I’m not the only person who absolutely reveres this film. On the Internet Movie Database, it has a rating of 8.6 out of 10, which puts it at number 27 on their list of the 250 movies with the highest user ratings. That’s pretty impressive, and it shows how much the violent, tragic tale of Leon and Mathilda has resonated with people.

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The Professional is a movie that is entertaining and thrilling and nail-bitingly tense, but is also brilliantly acted and profoundly moving. I have never seen a movie like this one. There is a magic to it that is impossible to repeat. It may be a bit of dark magic, but it is magic nonetheless.