Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have done four movies together. Lone Survivor was okay (my wife said all of Wahlberg’s movies could be called ‘Lone Survivor’ because he seems to be the only one who ends up surviving). Their film Deepwater Horizon had its moments. And Patriot’s Day was interesting for the fact that it was a true story (as were their other films together). Yet when Berg and Wahlberg try to make their version of The Raid, or Bourne Identity, it ends up just being a shoot ‘em up mess. The story has a million plot holes. It has shooting and fight scenes we’ve seen in so many other movies. In fact, there’s only one fight scene in the whole film that was interesting — it involved a handcuffed guy being treated by doctors.
Wahlberg plays James Silva, who works for a unit called Overwatch. They’re a CIA special forces team that…oh hell, I can’t remember. If things go south, I think the government just says they’ve never heard of ‘em. Something like that. In the beginning of the movie, we see this team raid a Russian safehouse. This is going to lead to those pesky Ruskies wanting revenge on the U.S. A side plot involves a rogue agent from a corrupt southeast Asian country. He’s played by Iko Uwais (The Raid). He has a disc that will give the team the six locations of where some stolen cesium powder is, that could lead to terrorists making nukes. Nobody knows who to trust, but what ends up happening is that they need to drive this guy to a plane and get him out of the country. Only then will he give the information on the disc. That drive to the airport — you guessed it. It’s 22 miles. And you would also be right if you guessed that it’s going to be more than someone going slow in the left lane that’s going to make this a tough delivery.
Aside from action sequences we felt we’ve seen before, a lot of the gadgets, despite how cool they were — also feel like we’ve seen before. A monitoring device that lets the lead agent (played by a slumming John Malkovich) monitor their pulse rate and blood pressure.
Some of the traits that Silva has have been done before. You feel like he’s a Jason Bourne type. We’re shown that he was a genius as a kid, a bit wild and crazy, and was trained early on to be this super agent. Also, he’s bi-polar. That all reminded me of Ben Affleck’s autistic super agent in The Accountant.
My wife and I both talked about how annoying Silva was. He’s always screaming about historical facts, and how they relate to the missions. He’ll talk a mile a minute, which I’m guessing many people will find amusing. Now, I have to admit, it was hysterical when Wahlberg did the fast talking thing in a few of the Ted movies (one of them rattling off a list of the most common names a white-trash woman would have). In this, it just got old quick. In one scene, he’s talking about John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” (among many literary references) and comparing that to the dangers at hand with what they’re dealing with. The only thing that made all of that dialogue even remotely tolerable, is that it lead to one of the funniest lines of Malkovich’s career. As he’s listening to the guy rattle off a bunch of stuff to a bad guy, he screams into his ear piece, “Stop monologuing, you bipolar fu** !”
The side characters aren’t that interesting. My wife liked seeing Lauren Cohan from The Walking Dead. Her story, dealing with a dopey ex-husband (played by Berg), who lectures her on cursing…got stupid quick. Especially since in one fit of rage, she does one of my movie pet peeves. She smashes her cell phone on the ground. Who does that in real life? Of course, in the next scene, she already has a new cell phone (although considering where she works, she probably has access to any electronics device).
Ultimate fighter Ronda Rousey does nothing but scowl, and looks like she smells something bad. She also shows that she can lose on the big screen, too. The weirdest thing is casting her, and not giving her a single fight scene. At least when Soderbergh cast Gina Carano in Haywire, she had lots of fights.
Speaking of the fights, I’ve always hated the hand-held, shaky camera and quick cuts. It’s really hard to follow the action. The first Bourne film is the only one that ever did that where it worked. Oh, and that bizarre Hardcore Henry (which was way better than this mess).
Another of my action picture pet peeves. I remember as a kid listening to my stepdad and a few adults on the block, drinking beer and talking about action movies. One of them would always complain, “How can James Bond be running away from machine gun fire, and not one bullet ever hits him?” That doesn’t bother me as much as movies these days that have the most intense fighting sequences. Then, an hour later, we’re supposed to believe Mark Wahlberg [or insert Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, etc], could fight like that again, taking down 5 thugs. Hell, when I play an hour of racquetball, I can barely walk for two days. And I’m supposed to believe these guys can throw punches (and take punches) every few hours?
Berg has some bizarre military fetish and Wahlberg likes playing goofy, tough guy heroes. Both need to give these things a rest. This violence porn was almost unwatchable for anybody that isn’t a 13-year-old boy.
1 star out of 5.