02 October 2011
Jason Statham’s husky voice, Clive Owen’s glorious ‘tache and Robert ‘God’ De Niro cannot save this mess of a film. You expect to see an Expendables-lite action-fest where Stath goes against the ‘tache, taking DeNiro’s shaggy beard along the way, instead you get a trailer that runs just short of 2.5 hours. It refuses to slow down to reflect on a scene, a quip, or a plot twist. There are plenty of those, but the shambolic editing and an inability to tell a decent story quickly exhaust one’s patience. This is by far the worst film I have seen all year.
Stath is Danny: an international assassin, best in the business. He has had enough of this killing business and wants to retire. But a vengeful sheikh and a chance to save his mentor and former partner-in-crime Hunter (De Niro) draw him back in. From this moment on we get a manhunt that gets more complicated and convoluted with every cut. Halfway through the whole mess, I began to wonder how we got here in the first place.
Clive Owen’s ‘tache brings some semblance of a story, but even his involvement feels like an afterthought. He is not really a baddie (the baddie role changes too many times), but more like a pseudo-nemesis to Stath. They engage in a couple of really good fight scenes, but soon they begin to blur into one another. It’s like a scrambled egg with too much milk in it.
I wish I had some nice things to say about this other than the aforementioned fight scenes, but what is not told on the screen feels more interesting. Why don’t we get more of Stath - De Niro relationship? There are clear political undertones (it starts and ends with based on a true story shenanigans), but why didn’t we get more of where this all leads? And why didn’t somebody think of rewriting the dialogue? There is a scene in one of the early episodes of House Season 7 where Taub and Foreman call House about a patient. They tell him what they suspect the patient is suffering from and what tests they are going to perform on him/her. I can’t remember the exchange verbatim, but it goes something like this.
House: “There’s nothing you’re asking from me.” Taub: “No.” House: “So, this phone call is only for exposition.”
He hangs up. I wish I was able to hang up on this film.