TGM Scale 5.0 P Factor o.0 MPAA Rating: R
Starring Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen
The movie needed quite a bit more De Niro. No, not dinero. Cash and Mexican scenery is abundant in this film. I am just unclear why a great actor like Robert De Niro was used so sparingly… a dinero issue perhaps? And don’t confuse this film at with the Sam Peckinpah film of the same name from 1975 with Robert Duvall, Arthur Hill and James Caan. There is no relation.
This is a professional assassin film. The basic plot is simple. Ex-British SAS (Special Air Services) rogues Danny (Statham) and Hunter (DeNiro) are free lance assassins. The time period is somewhere in the mid 1970’s we assume. [No cell phones or Mac product placements in this film.] DeNiro gets abducted by an Oman based sheikh. For his freedom, the sheikh wants Danny to obtain confessions and execute three British SAS officers who killed three of his sons in a raid. Danny sets out to kill them all while current SAS rogue Spike (Owen) tries to stop him. And of course, the ultimate trump card to make Danny comply is by threatening his new girlfriend Anne (played by hottie newbie Yvonne Strahovski). Nothing new here. Fast, fun and furious fights are all that really hold the film together.
It is hard to say more other than point out some nuances and faults. Number one is that the movie is a bunch of disjointed scenes pasted together with absolutely no foundation or relationship. The characters are hard to follow and while we get the plot, we don’t really understand the storyline. It is just very convoluted for no real reason. There is lots of great fighting, car chasing and gun shooting. We do learn (quite convincingly mind you) that all the bullets, eye gauging, stabs in the skull, blows, crashes and hits dished out gratuitously in this film don’t stop a man nearly as quickly as one swift kick or grab to the groin—ouch!. We also get a real doozie of a scene where one guy gets smacked dead on by a car. This is the third film in three weeks to feature such a scene. The Debt and Contagion each had such a feature. We are not speaking of your normal car crash with a person here—we mean dead on, total smack, run over like a raccoon action. Joy Lynn and I are always looking for new trends in films and this may be one of them. It is starting to overshadow the gratuitous urination scenes and our latest, P Factor rating.
Based upon a 1991 novel called The Feather Men by Ranulph Fiennes, there are supposed to be half-true elements in this story. TMG is not so sure. Fiennes himself admitted that much of the story was just fiction. What is clear is much of the dialogue was borrowed from other films. Candidates for worst lines in this movie are : An exchange that went ” He was lying.” “How can you tell?” “His lips were moving” Really? Borrowing old cliche jokes like that is the best the screenplay writers could muster? There were many more. Statham epistolizing “Killing is easy, living with it is hard.” Oh brother, now that took great imagination to steal that line from a hundred other films. Or perhaps Clive Owen blurting out “What the “f’ is that supposed to mean?’ or “You have no f-ing idea who you are f-ing with!” or perhaps best yet, “This f-ing thing ends today.” The lines just arrived so rehearsed, cliche and corny. I expected any moment for someone to utter “Go ahead, make my day.”
And for crying out loud (I love that old cliche expression) lets dispense with the Batman style scenes where one guy has the other cornered with a gun, but has to explain the whole plot and his life story first. Missing the sure kill and freedom, blabbing long enough for the other to engage and then kill him never works. In the real world, bad guys just shoot first.
The film goes on about 20 minutes too long as if they cannot figure out how to end it. Maybe a 5.0 rating was being too generous, but TMG is a sucker for hot action films–even ones with tons of flaws.