A bleak future...for film
goodfellamike - wrote on 09/05/08
One has to approach this turkey with the same trepidation as walking a tightrope with a blindfold on. It looks like it will be a bad movie from the get go, but a couple of moments during the trailer make it look like a fun throwaway action movie. This however is not the case, in fact, there’s barely any action to be found in its 90 minute running time.
During the exposition, we learn just about everything we need to know. Vin Diesel portrays a badass mercenary. With a body like his and his tendency to appear in just about any movie offered to him, what else would you expect him to play? He’s hired by shady criminal czar Gerard Depardieu (who’s heavily made-up to appear even uglier than he already is, and heavily dubbed as well) to transport young girl, Aurora (Melanie Thierry) from Asia to New York City in six days. He meets the young girl, who’s been raised at a convent by the overprotective Sister Rebeka (Michelle Yeoh), and after a few ground rules agrees to tote the nun as well on the journey. For the next 80 minutes, the viewer is assaulted with cliched dialogue, like “we’re not in Kansas anymore” and “I told you I don’t trust anyone,” and “it’s either kill or be killed,” as the trio are attacked by a mysterious group who works for Aurora’s father (Lambert Wilson) and a militant religious sect led by the purposely awful Charlotte Rampling, that aging beauty who used to appear in good movies.
The movie is directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, who has made one good movie to his credit, The Crimson Rivers, but has no idea how to handle this misguided action clunker. The action scenes are poorly lit, dizzyingly shot and so quick we don’t even have enough time to figure out what’s going on. The funniest scene has to be when the trio, led by another shady criminal, are traveling quickly across a snowy landscape and they are attacked by a small group of stealth planes equipped with enough weapons to level a major city. Diesel and his female cohorts are traveling on a vehicle that’s a cross between a snow-mobile and a four-wheeler, and those pesky stealth planes just can’t seem to kill them. Maybe because they look like they’re flying at 300 mph. Indeed, Diesel is apparently such a badass that he can take the stealth planes down with a few bullets and some quick maneuvering. He’s such a badass he survives multiple explosions too, one in this scene and two later on involving missiles that are targeted to a device he has inserted into his neck (don’t ask, the movie doesn’t explain that part very well). The funny part, to me, in this sequence is that these stealth planes are sent to destroy trespassers in this supposed “no entry” zone, and once they are destroyed and don’t return home, nothing else is sent after the trespassers. They make a peaceful little camp and pretend to be a family for a few hours. You’d think they would get the hell out of there.
It’s a mess. It never explains fully why the girl is so special (at one point she appears to have superpowers, but the scene never explains itself), why Diesel is shot in the stomach to supposedly “save his life”, why another character suddenly dies, what happens to the evil Charlotte Rampling, or why she doesn’t go after a couple of kids at the end, or even how Aurora seems to know the address of a special hideout. One also has to wonder why Aurora bothered to tell her friends that they would all die when they get to New York, since they don’t. I can’t complain to much since answering these questions would have required maybe another twenty minutes tacked on to the film, and as much as I hate it when movies don’t explain themselves, I was excited for it to be over prematurely. It’s a movie whose production should've been shut down prematurely. It’s obvious that the production ran into budget constraints and needed a quick ending, but I somehow suspect that everyone involved just lost interest in the whole thing. I certainly did! FInal Grade: D-