Directed by Andrew Davis (The Guardian (2006), Code of Silence (1985)).
Written by Ronald Roose (The Hessen Affair (2009)) and David Griffiths (The Hunted (2003)).
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, John Leguizamo, John Turturro, Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis and others.
This movie only came out when I was getting over my Arnie-fandom, so I didn’t even bother seeing it and knew nothing about until I actually sat down and watched it recently. After seeing it, I can say that I still know almost nothing about it. The movie is so stripped off any personality, that you can easily not realise you’ve been watching a movie and not a past-his-prime Schwarzenegger-flick.
In this movie Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fireman with a thick Austrian accent. In all his movies Arnold is somebody (insert any macho profession) with an Austrian accent. You are introduced to his family, but after a few minutes with them you get from the somber tone, that they are going to die. Or something. They die. Fuck spoilers, it happens in like the next scene, anyway.
This murder of his family is just thrown in there to have a reason for Arnold to be pissed off and start kicking ass. You don’t feel anything as his family dies and even though, Arnold tries to show us his wacky interpretation of method acting, it is a lot less believable or emotional than, for example, in Commando, where his relationship with Alicia Milano is established a lot better.
I don’t blame Arnold for any of this movie’s flaws, though. There are some other factors, like the script being total shit and feeling like it’s been written back in the early 90’s, but then updated a bit. Also the pacing is crap, since it tries to have some serious political message about terrorism, it layers on a ton of unnecessary exposition, only to become a mindless action B-movie later on. It’s 25 minutes in, when shit finally starts going down.
Also Arnold feels like a horrible anachronism in this. He doesn’t make as many weird faces, has almost no one-liners and tries to dial down his broad-stroke(victim)-acting. We are now faced with the fact, that Arnold has no place in the 2000’s, we feel weird, when people don’t give him suspicious looks, because he’s a god damned 6’2’’, huge Austrian man.
About half-way into the movie John Leguizamo appears, starting to steal his scenes and breathing some fresh air into the movie, but guess what, he’s only there for a couple of scenes and we’re back to the draggy dumb turd-fest, we were enjoying before. Closest we get to one-liners is when the villain says „What’s the difference between you and I?” and Arnold replies „The difference is, I’m just going to kill you!”, sure, it’s kind of clunky and no „See you at the party, Richter!”, but it has to do.
The film is simple-minded enough to seem like a fun action movie, yet stubborn enough to keep jamming internal conflicts down Arnie’s throat, who in addition to never being a good actor, seems to have lost his screen presence. It all amounts to probably one of the worst movies of his career and one of the last leading parts for him. We’ll have to see what he does in The Last Stand. The movie is somewhat summed up by the odd end twist, that you probably won’t see coming, but just because you won’t care enough.
Overall, a very bland and unentertaining movie from one of, if not the biggest action star ever. That’s a big fall, if you ask me. Not recommended.