My heart (or what passes for it) may be closer to this issue than most but... I love quality action flicks. They’re like poetry in motion. Only they’re actually legs, fists and elbow strikes in motion. Which, I think we can all agree, is much better!
So when a poor action film comes along, as they do with alarming regularity, I take it as a personal affront. I don’t view them as a bit of a laugh, brainless fun or fine for what they are.
I view them as crap. Because they are crap.
Am I being unreasonable? Well, 13 years ago it took only $63m to pump out something of The Matrix’s quality
. So there really is no excuse for pumping out the likes of......#5
The Bourne Legacy
An overlong, superfluous addition to the 21st century’s definitive spy franchise, The Bourne Legacy
commits the cardinal sin of showcasing precious little action. This misstep is forgivable in romantic comedies and boring dramas fishing for an Oscar nod, but NOT in an action movie.
One would be forgiven for expecting action in those...
With just the single perfunctory chase and fight scene, Bourne Legacy
makes no attempt to rectify the appalling cut-away editing of its heritage, coasting on the fact people will flock to anything with “Bourne
” in the title.Bourne Legacy Review
- “That’s 60 minutes of watching people talk when they should be having their talky bits elbow smashed by Renner, four quarters of an hour when no one gets arm flailed into unconsciousville. “Worst Offence?
The Pacing, without doubt. Waiting a full hour before any set-piece threatens to mount is an overindulgence of the scribe and overestimation of audience patience. Useful tip for the future – Open an action movie WITH ACTION!Redeeming Feature?
A mid-film assault on an isolated mansion serves up some watchable person-harming, assisted by an engaging CG long shot. A promise of quality never quite kept, unfortunately.#4
The decision to make Haywire
a work of unremitting shite was a dangerous gamble that didn’t really pay off, did it?
I mean, director Stephen Soderbergh
earns points for championing mixed martial artist Gina Carano
and rolling a camera as she kicked seven shades of excrement from an array of Hollywood’s most noticeable leading men. But wooden acting, a meandering plot and by-the-numbers action mar this effort.
An argument can be made that there’s only so much you can do on a modest budget. But when your protagonist is among the planet’s most talented fighters, this doesn’t hold up. Showcasing Carano’s
skills in intricate lengthy encounters seems the obvious choice to me. But hell, what do I know?!?Haywire Review
– “With a fighter of Carano’s
calibre at the helm, there’s no excuse for muddying the fights especially when you know, you just know, everything else is going to be botched anyway.”Worst Offence?Haywire
peaks far too early. A promising opening is buffeted by a thrilling bedroom brawl, but the action peters dramatically in the latter half. It culminates in a beach-front showdown so appallingly choreographed, I suspect the Stunt Coordinator had long since thrown himself to the tides!Redeeming Feature?
As always, it’s Michael Fassbender
. Specifically his aforementioned ambush in the Shelbourne Hotel. Three solid minutes of boxing, ju-jitsu and environmental detritus, had Haywire
continued in this vein it might have featured on a very different list.
But it didn’t.
So it doesn’t.#3
The Man with the Iron Fists
Respectfully disagreeing with our Shakyl’s assessment, RZA’s
debut is proper, authentic 100% bollox! Played alarmingly straight for such a seemingly self-aware homage, The Man with the Iron Fists
is bafflingly stingy with the Chop Sockey.
Though famed as a walking encyclopaedia of Kung Fu Cinema, RZA’s
obvious passion is muddied by woeful brawls, a needless reliance on wire-work (It has its place. This is not said place.) and a distinct lack of high-calibre martial artists on the roster.
Admittedly he bagged legendary choreographer Corey Yuen
. But either he’s lost his charm (unlikely) or wasn’t given an awful lot to do because there’s not a single sequence in this venture worthy of the genre that so blatantly inspired it.The Man With the Iron Fists Review
- “Where this movie falls down, however, is RZA’s
acting ability and direction. He’s the main character, yet he’s the least interesting of the bunch. He tries to inject zen-like calm to his character, but instead just comes off as monotonous and dull – and that includes his fight scenes”Worst Offence?
All of it. Seriously. But the fact the epic finale consisted of a professional wrestler (augmented by computer imagery) and a storied rapper in openly ridiculous prosthetics wailing on one another is a definite contender.Redeeming Feature?
I’m not going to get away with saying “None” am I? The axe-wielding Gemini fight against the Lion Clan in the Dragon Inn wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
How’s THAT for objectivity!?!#2
Divisive as the original Taken
was, most agreed that given its $25m budget and 55 year old star, the action was surprisingly tasty. Though hardly ‘Drunken Master meets Die Hard
’ there was solid shooting, driving and fist-punching to be found at regular intervals.Taken 2
acts as the quintessential example of ‘Bigger is Not Automatically Better’, a lesson frequently taught but never learnt by Hollywood.
Bogged down with contrived plotting and inconceivably mundane dialogue, Taken 2
takes its time mounting the action. Tension racking can be an effective technique but as we all know John Taken
can simply wish his opponents into oblivion it serves little purpose than to frustrate.
Unfortunately, after maybe 30 minutes, the action starts. Aww man...Taken 2 Review
– “What’s more, the action when it finally comes is some of the least appealing ever shot. Taken 2, again in frank disregard for its audience, removes almost all onscreen violence. This effectively neuters the punch line of each brawl and shootout but also leads to considerable confusion and more erratic editing.”Worst Offence?
Easily the final fight: 6 foot 4 kill-machine John Taken
versus a squat, obese Albanian in a tracksuit. This feels like a deliberate insult to the man carrying this entire franchise on his aging shoulders! I was never sure why Neeson didn’t just sit on his final opponent. Or exhale...Redeeming Feature?
Why do I do this to myself... Alright, Maggie Grace
starts lobbing grenades into the crowded centre of Istanbul so John Taken
can USE MATHS
to calculate his whereabouts. The Turkish police seem to have no real issue with this. Legitimately riotous!#1
The Expendables 2
The Expendables had a lot of problems but showed SOME
promise. So rather than fixing the former and capitalising on the latter... it just didn’t.
Over-bloated with geriatrics who can barely move (let alone act, Mr Schwarzenegger) yet undernourished in terms of spectacle, EX2
rests on its laurels i.e. the pull of Willis
and *shudder* Norris
. They do this at the expense of their true talent, by which I mean Statham
and Scot Adkins
’ inhumanly acrobatic kicks!The Expendables 2
is an embarrassingly honest paradigm of western action cinema. The fun is sparse, poorly shot, relies too heavily on pyrotechnics and seems decidedly uninterested in skilled, athletic performance. The fact this is pretty much our standard now makes my brain experience much sadness.
Remember in the opening years of the 21st century when eastern action influenced the way we choreographed and filmed. What the hell happened?The Expendables 2 Review
– “It’s 2012, Sly! There are choreographers that will drop your jaw, cameramen who will blow your mind and stuntmen whose physical majesty is so prominent, you’ll need a sit down and a nice cuppa just watching them!”Worst Offence?
Sidelining Jason Statham
for the bulk of the second act to introduce Chuck Norris
, a man so ridiculed an entire internet sub-culture spawned in response. The reason there are so many Chuck Norris
jokes is because WE ARE TAKING THE PISS!
Not because we want him in our movie, stealing precious screen time from our most venerable performer...Redeeming Feature?
“I now pronounce you man and KNIFE!” For some undisclosed reason, Jason Crank
dresses up as a monk, knifes some jerks in their neck-flesh and swings a thurlible like a morning star!
And no-one bats an eyelid because the Cranker
is the one doing it.
Yes! Please!! Mate!!!