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CIA Code Name: Alexa
Tonight's Feature Presentation

C.I.A. CODE NAME: ALEXA (1992)

Starring: Kathleen Kinmont, Lorenzo Lamas, OJ Simpson, Alex Cord, Pam Dixon

Written By: Ken Lamplugh, John Weidner Directed By: Joseph Merhi

The Short Version

See Lorenzo Lamas get completely upstaged by his wife!

These have to be the dumbest cops and agents on the planet.

Where the Hell was Alex Cord’s accent trying to come from?

Feel free to squirm a little when OJ Simpson makes certain jokes.

It’s bad, but it beats most cop shows on TV for cheap entertainment.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

NACHO CHEESE DORITOS.

Preferred snack of people everywhere who stay up after midnight to watch cheap movies.  No surprises here; you always know what the next bite will taste like.


Pairs Well With...

SCREWDRIVER.

How about some Vodka to go with your OJ?

“I suppose this is the part where you offer me a million dollars and complete immunity from prosecution, if I cooperate.  Right?”

“No. We’re gonna let you live.”


I swear that CIA Code Name: Alexa was on HBO at least once every two or three nights for at least that many years.  It was like Hootie and the Blowfish on the radio.  Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t get away from it.  Now, almost two decades later, odds are that you’ve never even heard of this movie if you aren’t already a fan of Lorenzo Lamas or Kathleen Kinmont.  (Or at the very least ever had a crush on either one.  Come to think of it, some of you may have never had to endure Hootie and the Blowfish, either.  Lucky you.)  So goes life in the Bar.

CIA Code Name: Alexa is strictly cheesy movie night material.  It’s a formula “agents have to thwart the bad guys who stole something important and local cops get in the way” type flick, with the added bonus that most everyone involved is some kind of idiot.  I’d say you can see every twist coming from a mile away, but I doubt even the most jaded viewer would expect the bad guys to find the CIA’s secret hideout by tracking someone’s license plate.  The characters are stereotypes, the acting is either one dimensional or completely over the top, and, to top it at all off…

…come on, folks.  It’s a Lorenzo Lamas flick.

I know the man has his fans, but frankly, I’ve never understood it.  In the pantheon of action movie stars, realistically, Lamas sits pretty close to the bottom, somewhere in the neighborhood of Michael Dudikoff.   (Possibly under his shoe.  He does beat out Kurt Thomas, though!)  One expects at least a stab at melodrama from a man who made his name starring in a soap opera (“Falcon Crest”), but Lamas is barely capable of changing his facial expression, and totally incapable of changing the tone of his voice.  I think maybe the stubble roots the muscles in place.  Could be wrong, though.

He does, however, get married a lot, and he likes to do projects with whomever the current wife happens to be.  At this point, Kathleen Kinmont was on the declining slope of being Wife Number Three.  (As of this writing, he’s on Number Five.)  Hence, the genesis of this movie.  And frankly, those of us who decide to watch CIA Code Name: Alexa should be glad of this, because Kathleen Kinmont is far and away the best thing about this movie.  While Lamas is busy standing around practicing his self-hypnosis tape voice and forgetting to shave, his wife is on the screen kicking ass and completely upstaging her husband.

Her tone of voice also rarely changes and she always looks like she’s really, really nervous about something, but frankly, we do not care.  You go, Kathleen.

But anyway.  On with our story!  Here’s a slice of Act One for you.

Bad guys break into government building and take hostages.  Cops surround the place.  Lead Bad Guy steals something and swallows it.  CIA Agent Mark Grazer (ex soap opera guy Lorenzo Lamas) storms in and shoots the bad guys dead.

Funeral for Lead Bad Guy, whom the filmmakers really want you to know was black.  Preacher asks for a sign, gets four machine gun-toting Baddies in Black busting into his church.  Baddies wave a wand over the corpse, get a positive reading, and start to steal it.  One of them inexplicably shoots the Preacher, the altar, and a churchgoer.  He has the nerve to act surprised when cops show up.  Baddies drop the body and scatter.

A cop named Murphy – aren’t they all? – played by OJ Simpson (acquitted, then sentenced to 33 years for something else) is asleep in his car.  Upon waking, he makes a “yo mama” joke, then responds to the call about the Baddies.  Through sheer luck, he actually manages to arrest the female one. (Kathleen Kinmont, who’d work with Lorenzo again on “Renegade” even after their divorce.)  This doesn’t last long, as she does a very credible job of breaking out of police custody and is almost out the door when Grazer shows up, calls her by a name no one’s supposed to know (“Alexa”), saves the day, and says that the CIA will be taking custody of her in the morning.

Once she’s in custody, Alexa is offered the awesome opportunity to cooperate with the CIA in the matter of bringing down her boss, Victor (Alex Cord, best known for “Airwolf”), in exchange for being allowed to live.  When that doesn’t work, the offer is changed to cooperation vs. life without ever seeing her daughter again.  Such cuddly folks, the CIA.

Meanwhile, Murphy wants answers, and does his best to harass the CIA, because dedicated cops are supposed to do that sort of thing in movies.

Sound straightforward enough yet?  No bonus points for prognosticating the existence of a shower scene, a badly scored sex scene, or the crazy cop being brought in to help the CIA for the final fight.  As noted earlier, save for the part that the characters are occasionally even dumber than you thought, CIA Code Name: Alexa is nothing if not predictable.  If this flick were any more dependent on formula, you’d have to burp it when the credits roll.  But that, in the end, is all part of the fun.  Sure, it’s cheesy, but it flows well, even as you notice the fact that had someone been a little smarter, the movie could have ended in either the first ten or first sixty minutes.  It’s a comfortable snack, equally enjoyable for a standard mild action audience as it is to those who make a sport of lampooning bad movies.

Just try not to think about certain things or ask certain questions.  For example…

Try not to think of the fact that Alexa is not a code name.  It’s the lady’s real name.  It’s just that no one knows what her last name is.

Try not to think of the actual legal operating theatre of the CIA, especially in the pre-2001 world.  Hint: it is not within the borders of the United States.  That would be a bunch of other departments.

Try not to ask why the CIA doesn’t notice that its Extra Special Microchip – the secret one that can Control Every Weapon System On Earth – is missing.  Y’know, after the terrorists get done taking over the lab where it was being developed.  Without military guard.  In the middle of an office building downtown.

Try not to ask anything at all about the Mr. Initial Bad Guy’s body.  Like why it wasn’t examined in the first place, or why it’s under such nonexistent security even after other Bad Guys make it clear that they’re trying to steal said body.

Try not to ask why the terrorists in the church take their masks off in front of about a hundred witnesses.

Try not to ask why the terrorists who run from the church don’t ditch the incriminatingly obvious jumpsuits as quickly as possible.  After all, they’re cut for MC Hammer; surely there’s room for a complete civilian business suit to be ready to go underneath.  It’s called blending in; makes getting away easier.

Try not to ask what kind of idiot would leave Alexa in LA police custody after she’s been arrested in connection with the death of five cops and has just very nearly escaped from said police custody, pulling a gun on two cops in the process.  Pick her up in the morning?  What?  1) She’s already shown she can escape, and you’re leaving her there.  2) Suspected cop killer.  Police brutality, anyone?  LAPD?  Seriously?

Try not to notice that the production designers’ idea of an Avant Garde CIA Base of Operations interior consists primarily of placing fluorescent lights in odd places and at lower than normal heights.

Try not to notice that for being a martial arts action hero, Lorenzo Lamas doesn’t actually get into a non-gun fight until there are less than ten minutes left in the movie.  And even then, try not to notice that with the exception of exactly three moves, you never actually see Lorenzo himself punch or kick; almost all of it is either non-facial close-up or blacklit shadow.

I suspect that Lorenzo Lamas would like you to try not to notice the fact that Kathleen Kinmont kicks major ass throughout the movie, spends a decent amount of time fighting, and always does it on-camera and with good lighting.  But you’re going to notice anyway, and it will make you happy.

Try not to notice that Kathleen Kinmont’s gratuitous shower scene, despite being shot nude, does not feature a single shot of skin that can’t make it to commercial television, at least on a cable station.

Try not to notice that despite the fact that the two were actually married at the time, Lorenzo Lamas and Kathleen Kinmont have absolutely no screen chemistry whatsoever.  Even couples that don’t really like each other anymore tend to have some kind of spark; these two, though, have nothing.

Try not to ask where that sex scene came from, either, aside from the scriptwriter suddenly deciding, “oh, shit, we’re supposed to have one!”

Try not to notice that there’s roughly a 10:1 ratio during said scene on close-ups of the tattoo on Lorenzo Lamas’ arm vs. even fleeting shadowed glimpses of Kathleen Kinmont’s naughty bits.

Try not to notice – or at least not to squirm a little – when OJ Simpson is involved in a dialogue exchange like this:

Cop: “Maybe we ought to just beat it out of her.”

OJ Simpson: “Oh, wouldn’t I love to!  But she’d probably like it.”

…but feel free to cheer when he points out, “That’s the second time this week I got my ass kicked by a chick.”

Try not to ask where the bad guys are from; the country is never actually named, though you can guess that since gents are named “Victor” and “Vlad,” it’s probably somewhere in Eastern or Central Europe.

Try not to notice that Vlad’s hero is very obviously not Lorenzo Lamas, but Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Try not to ask where Alex Cord’s ridiculous fake accent comes from; I don’t think he’s even sure.  He’s kinda going for the Eastern Europe thing, but then this Spanish stuff shows up and it’s all “Whose Line Is It Anyway” from there.

Try not to ask why the CIA sends someone to steal from the Bad Guys in a car whose license plate is registered to the building where the CIA’s Secret Hideout is.

Try not to ask why no one from either side ever actually bothers to open the metal suitcase to be sure that the microchip is really in there.

Try not to ask or notice any of these things.  Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.  However predictable CIA Code Name: Alexa may be, it still beats watching the same plot getting recycled over and over again on any one of the six million “CSI” and “Law & Order” clones on TV every week.  Besides, those shows don’t have shower scenes!

Bottom line, Kathleen Kinmont kicks ass in this movie, and for something like CIA Code Name: Alexa, that’s really all that matters.  Just have fun with it and enjoy poking fun at Lorenzo Lamas during the slower moments.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, September, 2011

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