Producer: Josh Itzkowitz   Director: Chris Roberti   Screenplay: Chris Roberti and Josh Itzkowitz   Cast: Chris Roberti, Julia Schonberg, Tonya Glanz, Evan Kaufman, Jeff Seal, David Carl, Katie Hartman and David Bly   Distributor: Dark Star Pictures

Grade: C-

You have to give credit to the makers of this micro-budget sci-fi romance for audacity: they shot the movie guerilla-style on a cruise ship as it made its rounds in the Caribbean: visits to Key West and Cozumel are included on the itinerary.

Unfortunately, the stealthy method of its making is more interesting than the finished product.  Given the surreptitious filming by Darin Quan, the picture actually looks pretty good, at least via home viewing.   The problems are in front of the camera, not behind it.

The premise riffs off “The Terminator.”  Two assassins from the twenty-fifth century arrive in the eighties to fulfill a couple of missions.  But shaggy-haired James (Chris Roberti) and his trainee, straight-arrow Mot (Julia Schonberg) are far from the Schwarzenegger mold, and their assignment has its light side.  Their first targets are a couple frolicking alone on a beach, who between cuddles discuss their big money-making idea—reality television.  James and Mot dispatch them quickly, thereby ending an obvious threat to the intelligence and sanity of future generations.

That’s the best joke the script by Roberti and Josh Itzkowitz has to offer, and there’s another eighty minutes to go.  The duo proceed to a cruise ship where their next target awaits—Lilly (Tonya Glanz), a businesslike type whom we meet as she’s abruptly breaking up over dinner with her astonished fiancé Rob (Evan Kaufman).  It’s later revealed that her offense was (or would be) to invent something that will increase the possibility of worldwide pollution. 

But as Mot is incapacitated with a bout of seasickness, James locates Lilly on his own and—of course—falls for her.  As he pursues her around the ship, the question is just how this time-hopping, potentially fatal romance will turn out, especially since there are, we learn, rules the time-tracking assassins must follow or else, and Mot awakens from her lethargy just in time to intervene. 

In order to stretch this thin plot line to even modest feature length, the screenplay depends a good deal on the supporting characters.  There’s Rob, of course, who keeps pursuing Lilly in his hangdog way, but also a side story about Carlo and Katja (David Carl and Katie Hartman), a couple of randy crew members who look for opportunities to engage in raunchy activities in between their housekeeping duties. 

A more important crew member is Gary (Jeff Seal), a general cleaner-upper (at one point he complains about having to see to a restroom befouled by a bunch of kids).  He’s a gregarious sort—obnoxiously so, in fact—who latches onto James and shows up whenever the script needs punching up with some mugging and bad jokes.  Gary fancies himself a magician, you see, and misses no opportunity to try out a new trick.  Suffice it to say his act is not Vegas-ready.     

Editor Josh Melrod tries to tie the disparate material together into a reasonably smooth whole, but the movie has a lumpy feel, composed as it inevitably is of footage shot on-the-fly, as it were.  The cast is variable.  Roberti has a laid-back, scruffy charm that might be engaging if he were given anything amusing to say, but he hasn’t provided many witticisms for himself; Glanz brings a brusque efficiency to Lilly but not much else, while Schonberg has the misfortune of having to play sick for much of the picture, with the throwing-up scenes that necessitates.  The supporting performers seem totally unfamiliar with the notion of subtlety; Seal is particularly extravagant in that respect, but the others aren’t far behind.

As much as one might admire the chutzpah behind its making, this shipboard romance hardly proves an affair to remember—although in high-concept Hollywood, one could easily imagine a retooled, bigger-budgeted remake on the horizon.