Little thought has gone into the scenario in Crime Zone and it often seems merely an array of generic oppressive elements without any underlying or consistent ideology there is a police state, yet morality is lax and street crime appears to be tolerated; there are various anti-sex laws yet prostitution is legal. This however is not important in the postmodern dystopian scenario, the totalitarian state is largely symbolic, standing in for the monolithic mass of controlling tyranny in everyday life, a symbolic ideology for the heroes of the piece to win their individuality against. This is why the action film, which is all about hard-fought individuality, has latched onto the dystopia so well.
Crime Zone is a peculiaefilm. It is a Roger Corman production and has been designed as a low-budget action hybrid thus any pretensions it has should be regarded as a bonus rather than a failing. It does suffer from conceptually shabby scripting. Some of the character motivation gets extremely silly at times it is hard to swallow that police chief David Carradine would set Peter Nelson and Sherilyn Fenn up simply because the police need criminals to keep their jobs going. Or that Michael Shaner would turn from being the heros best friend into a psychopath because simply Nelson fails to share a hooker with him. There is a priceless scene one has no idea whether it is intentional or not where the female cop bursts into Peter Nelsons room suspecting to find him in flagrante delicto and in a thick accent demands: Ill bet youre still horny, Sub-Grade show me your dick ... Is that its normal size? Whether intentionally or not, the background with its half-defined ideas about the social situation, its lack of ties to anything we can understand, creates an atmosphere of strangeness. What makes Crime Zone almost worthwhile is its interestingly nihilistic twist ending taken somewhat from George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and its idea of the perpetual war to suppress the populace.
The production designer has tried to create a future that looks like an experiment in style that has gone wrong. Everything is decked out in neon, from the bars and brothels to the bedheads, the balls on the pool table and the spoilers on the cars even the derelicts in the Plague Zone appear to drag portable neon lights around after them. However, with such overkill, the effect is more pretentious than it is futuristic. The production designer is also hamstrung by the films cheapness the cryo-tubes in The Gardens of Hibernation are simply plastic sheets.
Among the cast, David Carradine gives an assured performance, easily the best in the film. Sherilyn Fenn, normally a vacant actress, is surprisingly good her character comes tough and hard-bitten but with a forceful drive.
Peruvian-born director Luis Llosa later went onto direct action films such as Sniper (1993), the fine Stallone-Sharon Stone pairing The Specialist (1994) and then the campily awful monster movie Anaconda (1997).