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Save time and money by skipping these at the Red Box

Dec. 5, 2013 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com I endured two films so you won’t have to! Read on in this week’s film review column. You can save that rental fee at the Red Box and spend it on something far better.
Blood of Redemption
Sitting in the ever-growing pile of DVDs and Blu-rays that are sent to me for review were the two films that I watched for this week’s column. I have to admit that I was in a low-budget action film frame of mind and what better way to fulfill that yearning than a movie starring Dolph Lundgren? Lundgren came to prominence in 1985 with his appearance in “Rocky IV.” The tall and athletic star wound up being in the second – and sometimes third– tier of action stars over the years. Although he has worked pretty steadily since then it was his casting in the two “The Expendables” movies that brought him the most attention he’s had in a while. Lundgren is the star of this crime and revenge film and he brings his best game to it. As Axel, the bodyguard to a crime boss, Lundgren gives a very credible and nuanced performance. The guy is a professional and a year after the death of his boss, he itches to find out who killed him and dish out some payback. The problem with the film isn’t Lundgren at all. It’s with the script and direction. The convoluted plot includes a bit about the crime boss’s youngest son becoming an FBI agent – really! Naturally this guy didn’t know his dad was in the identity fraud business until after his death. The script writes checks that the budget and direction can’t cash. I howled at actor Robert Davi, who has played hoods all his life, affect an English accent, which comes and goes throughout the movie. I’m assuming he just didn’t care. Two people handled the direction, which is never a good sign. The action sequences are not well done and in an action movie that’s a bit of a problem. Despite Lundgren’s best efforts, “Blood of Redemption” isn’t much of a movie.
Java Heat
Here is another vehicle for another member of “The Expendables” cast – this time Mickey Rourke. Rourke is clearly one of those actors who telegraphs his distain for the material by giving a lackluster performance. It’s hard to imagine the actor who was so moving in “The Wrestler,” turn into such a sleepwalker. Don’t blame the by the numbers script. Rourke is a professional who should bring something to the role of the bad guy here, but he doesn’t. The film is about an AWOL Marine who has come to Indonesia to track Muslim terrorists who have killed people he cares about. Kellan Lutz, seen in the last “Twilight” movie and in the up coming “Hercules: the Legend Begins” is a big good-looking stud muffin with all of the personality of a two by four. “Wooden” doesn’t say enough. There were things I really liked about this film, which was shot in Indonesia. The setting is different and refreshing. The Indonesian cop who reluctantly teams up with Lutz’s character is well played by Ario Bayu. Rourke, mumbles in a French accent and is the collector of fine things – and people – who finances the terrorism activities. Could there have been an interesting film someplace in here? Doubtful. The film’s chief asset of its setting was squandered to tell a routine action story.

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