Day 354-- War (2007)

I read an article on actor Jason Statham in the August 31 issue of Entertainment Weekly. The author mentions Statham's near opponent-less running for the new red-meat action hero of the 21st century. Statham is magnetic in War, but that doesn't make it a good movie.

Statham plays Jack Crawford, a San Fransisco police officer in the Asian crime division. After his partner is murdered by a legendary assassin known as Rogue (Jet Li), Crawford swears revenge. The two eventually square off when Rogue initiates a war between the Triads (Hong Kong-based organized crime) and the yakuza (Japanese organized crime), playing both sides against the other.

Most of the cast sleepwalks through their roles, especially Li. For an actor renown for his martial art prowess, he does very little hand-to-hand fighting, instead relying on his gimmicky special-guns-that-use-special-bullets-that-let-cops-know-he-was-there-because-of-special-silver-shell-casings.
And the supporting cast is wasted--the always-great Luis Guzman is tossed off what is essentially an extended cameo, and then there's the rest of Crawford's unit: the token African-America, the token woman, the token new guy (who also doubles as the token Asian).

There were elements of the movie that actually gave me hope throughout that it would end up being better than it was--some of the action scenes were inspired, the almost worked in spots, and there was an occasion or two where I thought, "Huh, this does a good job at showing how hollow and terrible revenge is." But then the movie went back into 'it could've been better' mode.

I'll blame the director, Phillip Atwell. The dude has just done music videos before this, and you can expect as much just from the overblown visuals and unnecessary mugging. And a cheap, shameful twist near the end was a slap in the face, especially when you realize which direction the film takes it. Shame on you, lazy screenwriter(s).

The few good bits do not make War a good movie. In fact, it's something that ultimately left me uneasy--I think I enjoyed the adrenaline high afterward, but when I started thinking more about the movie I realized how lame it ultimately was.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 8/26/2007 01:34:00 AM,


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