Tuesday, July 20, 2010
THE BIG HIT
Starring - Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips, Christina Applegate, Bokeem Woodbine, Antonio Sabato Jr.
I know, I know, we all wanted this one to work; action-comedy with a smattering of tongue-in-cheek satire produced by John Woo. Unfortunately, though a bunch of small things do go right, the majority of the comedy falls flat, some of it painfully so. At least one, preferably two, more action scenes would have also gone some distance in lifting this film out from the hole in which it fell.
This is an earlier American entry to foray into the realm of over the top, greatly exaggerated, gravity defying action, and the "bang bang boom boom" stuff is generally a success. Provided, of course, that you can swallow the idea of dead bodies soaring through the air and deceptively non-threatening explosions. Personally, I'm a huge advocate of gratuitous violence and can swallow just about anything that involves limitless bullets. We get Marky Mark rolling down hand railings, bungee jumping out of explosive blasts, being chased down a mountain by a flipping car, and (icing on the cake) knife-fighting Lou Diamond Phillips in a video store. There is literally a little something excessive there for everyone. The only down side to all this action hubris comes in the from of a few pointless, unnecessary jumps...and I don't mean "jump cuts"...I mean actual insert shots of the gang simply jumping...which doesn't seem immediately beneficial during a gunfight...
Such a pity that team Wong Woo failed to provide me with that which I so purely desired...50 or so minutes go by with nary an action sequence in sight. In it's stead, I'm subjected to a barrage of jokes ranging from mediocre to lame as shit and involving a running masturbatory gag, a forgetful homeboy, and a domestic comedy of errors. Timeless subjects, all of them. Not that those things are necessarily un-funny, but in these particular situations they too were exaggerated, and proved to turn themselves more silly than anything. Case in point: the "chicken stuffing/sweet sweet loving" juxtaposition. I get the allusion, but some softer lighting and more seductively subtle shots of the chicken's glory (i.e. taking the ridiculousness of the scenario just a bit more seriously) would have turned the whole sordid affair into a joke being played by the filmmakers, not just a cheap laugh being had by them. I don't even want to get into the travesty that was the "trace buster" gag.
Not that the actors themselves can't be held at least partially responsible for their beyond-caricaturistic deliveries and overall performances. Even when the odd couple of chuckles are induced (I did enjoy watching Cisco kill Gump...maybe because I hated him so much...even his name is obvious...), those are quickly squashed by the downhill boulder that is bad acting. Everything out of Gump's mouth is cringe worthy, as is usually the outcome of bad parody, and Phillips' Latino tough guy comes across as laughable and incompetent. He needs to go back and re-watch Stand and Deliver. Top that all off with China Chow as Keiko, pitifully uttering classic love tomes such as "I'm feeling it, Skipper," and you can't help but long for someone to get shot. Anyone. Quick.
The really great moments are far outnumbered by the really weak moments, and when mixed all together everything is merely moderately amusing. So much potential washed away in a hail of playground humour. Not even the good playground humour. Kudos on the soundtrack however. It's nice to see Molotov getting a little notice.