Friday, December 28, 2007


The Verdict: Bog-standard actioner. Disappointing, considering the promising cast.

The Rating: 4/10

Action movies are really about escapism. Total immersion in a good action movie is a wonderful thing, achieved when your attention is totally focussed on the screen, and your immediate surroundings are temporarily forgotten. Even with the best flicks, this kind of voluntary immersion is dependent on a certain amount of suspension of disbelief (SOD) on the part of the viewer. Hollywood producers take note, PCMR has uncovered a scientific formula to calculate how immersed your audience will be! Yes that’s right fat cats, put down the Cuban cigar for the moment, and stop counting those dollars, this formula may make you even richer! Here it is:

SOD = (O – C)

Or in other words, Suspension Of Disbelief is equal to Originality less Cliché. When SOD is less than zero, tolerance levels drop below critical levels, with punters more likely to move to the lobby for popcorn, or to the pause button and the kettle.

With Statham and Li's previous outing - 'The One' – there was enough originality to keep the SOD factor positive, making what could have been a pretty ridiculous movie thoroughly enjoyable. (And Jet Li fought himself! Dude! – Ed). Unfortunately 'War' hits sub-zero SOD levels very very early.

Essentially, Statham's partner and best friend gets killed and he becomes so obsessed with revenge that his previously idyllic relationship with his wife and child breaks down. (3 cliches already!). He's an FBI agent (4) monitoring the ongoing battle between the warring Triads and Yakuza gangs in San Francisco, while keeping an eye out for the rogue agent who murdered his partner. Throw in a car chase here (5), a motorbike chase there (6), loads of standard shoot-out gun play (... say 10), and nowhere near enough chop-socky fights between Statham and Li (one!) and the impulse to say 'sod it' becomes harder to ignore.

Anything original to report? Well, Jet Li is a bad guy... and that's about it really. Everything else here is formulaic, from the hammy, cardboard cut-out Yakuza and Triad baddies, to the cheesy female characters, and the bizarre CSI-inspired belief that to make characters cool and edgy, shades and a leather jacket will do the trick, no matter what they say and do. With an SOD this low, you'll be itching in your seat, pointing out plot holes and less likely to give a toss about what eventually happens. The ending does attempt valiantly to surprise, but by then it's just too little too late.

Jason Statham should really be aiming higher than this kind of bog-standard fare. And Jet Li came out of retirement for this? Take PCMR's advice: avoid this unoriginal, cliché-riddled movie, and consider it a lucky escape.

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