The Department of Scientific Intelligence, known as The Shop, conducts secret experiments. Golden Globe nominee David Keith (An Officer and a Gentleman) plays Andy McGee. He and his wife Vicky, a role acted by six time Golden Globe nominee Heather Locklear (Spin City), were involved in one of the experiments. Andy and Vicky, along with a number of other people, were injected with something called Lot Six. They are told it’s a mild hallucinogen. Andy and Vicky are the only two participants who survive the experiment, and the drug alters both of them. Vicky gains the ability to read minds, and Andy can make people do exactly what he wants. For example, he gives a person a dollar bill and makes them think he handed them five hundred dollars, but his power comes with a price.
The young couple fall in love and begin a life together. Vicky gives birth to their daughter Charlie. Golden Globe winner Drew Barrymore (Grey Gardens) portrays Charlie McGee. As the child begins to grow, she demonstrates that she has an incredible power, pyrokinesis, which is the ability to create and control fire by using her mind.
The chief scientist of The Shop, Dr. Joseph Wanless, played by BAFTA nominee Freddie Jones (Menace),wants the McGees back under his control. When it comes to eight year old Charlie, he wants her dead. Dr. Wanless is afraid that when she grows older, if her power remains unchecked, she will bring the world to an end. Captain Hollister, portrayed by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen (The West Wing), wants to harness Charlie’s power and use it as a weapon. John Rainbird, a role acted by Oscar winner George. C. Scott (Patton), works as a hitman for The Shop. He has his reasons for also wanting Charlie to live, at least temporarily.
Staying on the run from The Shop is exhausting for Andy and Charlie. Vicky has already been dealt with. During their travels, the McGee’s come across people who lend them help. For example, there is Irv Manders portrayed by Oscar winner Art Carney (Harry and Tonto). He and his wife Norma, played by Oscar winner Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), witness The Shop’s attempt to take the McGee’s into custody, and they see the phenomenal power Charlie possesses.
How long will Andy and Charlie be able to outrun The Shop? What will happen if The Shop does capture Charlie? Will she be used as a weapon for nefarious purposes? Those questions and more will be answered by the end of the film.
“Firestarter” was directed by Mark L. Lester (White Rush). The screenplay was written by Oscar nominee Stanley Mann (The Collector). The film is based on prolific, best selling author, Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The novel was published on September 29, 1980 by Viking Press. Parts action, horror, Sci-Fi, and thriller, the movie has a runtime of 114 minutes. The film was released in the United States on May 11, 1984. On March 10, 2002, the television mini-series “Firestarter 2; Rekindled” debuted on American television. The mini-series was directed by Emmy winner Robert Iscove (Save the Last Dance). The teleplay was written by Philip Eisner (Event Horizon). The series centers around an adult version of Charlie McGee played by Marguerite Moreau.
Trivia buffs take note: “Firestarter” was originally going to be directed by John Carpenter (Halloween). He was removed after less than stellar critical reviews and the bad box office take for “The Thing.” “Firestarter” was the film debut of Heather Locklear. King’s novel was the first of his work to ever be published as a limited edition. Martin Sheen replaced Oscar and three time BAFTA winner Burt Lancaster (Elmer Gantry), who needed to have heart surgery. Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) was considered for the role of Charlie, as was Heather O’Rourke (Poltergeist).
This was the second time I watched “Firestarter.” I watched the movie once when I was a teenager, so it’s been a number of years. If memory serves me correctly, the first time I watched the film, I didn’t particularly care for it. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for it that day, because I liked it during this subsequent viewing. The film has an excellent cast, who all perform their respective roles well. Drew Barrymore proves that famous acting family aside, she has talent, which has been validated critically as her career progressed into adulthood. Overall, the film held my interest from start to finish.