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"Wow. First off, I just want to say that this movie is truly a significant achievement in the history of filmmaking. Treat Williams stars in this thrilling drama, that sends a humble mercenary into the very heart of a Neo-Nazi conspiracy. Set in the late 1990's, our mercenary-hero (armed with high-explosives and a Ph.D. in modern literature) becomes a substitute at a military academy, only to discover it's been overrun by Nazi-thugs and a world-class exterminator. Peppered with megabuck special effects, including a scene in which the intolerant Nazis blow up a minority owned power plant, this movie proves itself to be a treat (no pun intended) for the eyes, as well as the soul. You'll truly feel like you're part of the action as Treat crushes his students with a bulldozer, beats ass in the classroom with chalkboard erasers, and kills the Nazi-principal as he screams in desperation for "racial purity". Put the children to bed for this one! "Substitute 4: Failure Is not an Option" will affect you in ways few films have. Its realistic portrayal of Nazism in our military academies is a silent and chilling reminder of who's really in charge of our children's futures. Your life will never be the same, once you see this film. Its title may seem cryptic, yet its message rings clear. Failure is NOT an Option!"
Not too bad (as far as sequels go)
Scott Wilson | Ohio | 04/20/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a big fan of The Substitute series (which explains the four stars), I didn't think it was that bad. Treat Williams gives his third performance as Karl Thomasson, and in this film he goes undercover(as usual) in a military academy to infiltrate a Neo-Nazi group. Lots of action, hand-to-hand combat (only to be expected from the Sub), and Angie Everhart provides some pleasing eye candy. If you're not too big on The Sub, this might not be the movie for you. If you are, it ain't that bad."
Well, it's no "Substitute 3"
John Markley | Oak Lawn, IL USA | 08/10/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Part four in what is arguably this decade's finest educator-themed action franchise. Treat Williams goes undercover in a Nazi military academy to root out the evil plot that lies within, battling an evil school commandant, brainwashed Nazi students, and a Korean guy whose presence is never adequately explained. You'd think a movie willing to go with a premise that ludicrous would have to be entertaining, but most of it is pretty dull. The movie tends to drag- there's far too many talky scenes about how much the evil white supremacist commandant (palyed by a sort of poor man's John Malkovich) hates atheistic multicultural liberals and not nearly enough action. The ratio of liberal sermonizing to buttkicking is badly miscalculated. It gets two stars instead of one for a couple of good action sequences (I especially liked the death by bulldozer) and the presence of Treat Williams, who's much too good for this sort of thing. Overall, though, I wouldn't bother unless it's the only thing on cable- there's much more entertaining action fare out there."
Redeeming quality: the locale
Ellis Godard | Moorpark, CA United States | 02/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The plot's odd, but maybe that's okay with you. The fight scenes are well done, but maybe you don't care about that. The dialog is not wretched, and the directing's quite good. All in all, as a movie, probably a 4 if you like this kind of thing, a 2 if you don't, a 3 on average.
What kicked it up a notch for me is that it was filmed at my high school alma mater, Woodward Academy. One of the good guy's gets killed right outside the room where I had english with Mrs. Hudson. The administration building is actually a library built after I graduated. The head honcho (and lead bad guy) has an office in what's really the alumni building. Even the Woodward pool makes an appearance - three, actually.
Whereas on-location filming usually takes advantage of locations for outdoor shoots, and does the indoor shots in a sound stage, a tremendous amount of the stuff here was actually filmed inside at Woodward - in the hallways, an office or two, even a classroom.
So, for those of you who attended Woodward, forget about the plot and the other reviews of it. Pick up on the little things - like the school uniforms that closely resemble those of GMA (note: Woodward Academy used to be Georgia Military Academy), the skinhead's mascot (Werewolfs; Woodward is the War Eagles), and what appears in one shot to be a photo of Col. Brewster (who founded GMA)."
Stanley Runk | Camp North Pines | 11/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Treat Williams is back, still kicking [...] and asking questions later. At this pooint I think most people now identify Williams as The Substitute considering this is his third outing as the mercenary with a heart of gold. Once again he's lured into a deadly mission by an old war pal. He seems to be a sucker for taking on these missions as charity cases coz he never gets paid. Naturally the gig has him as a history teacher at a military academy. He discovers a secret group within the school called the "werewolves". The Werewolves are an angry white supremacist bunch who are in training for a civil war between black and white they believe is happening soon. They like to run around and destroy property owned and supported by minorities. The leader of the group(The always scary Patrick Kilpatrick) is also the commendant of the academy. Big shocker there, huh? Williams goes about his routine of wooing the leading lady, beating up at least one kid in the classroom(with chalkboard erasers!), being all round sneaky and saving the day with a little help from his friends. His mission is to get his buddy's(the guy who sent him on this mission) nephew out of the Werewolves. Being that this is a part 4 in a series it can't help but feel a little stale, but it deals with some scary subject matter(neo-nazis) and that makes it pretty solid and pretty interesting. You'll like it if you like the others. Personally I hope Williams does at least one more of these films."