|"That's right...I got a wacky goatee...I got a big gun...life is good."|
"Yeah. Code. Wax is on, he's gonna take you off. Gives them something to think about, throws them off balance. Got it?"
1) Even more so than Unknown (see this previous post), this movie is designed to take advantage of the success of Taken. The film's structure is frighteningly similar, right down to one set piece involving the sudden shooting of a woman during dinner. However...
2) Even though the aping of Taken includes the fifteen minutes or so of us getting familiar with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers' Reese, you never get the impression these characters exist in anywhere other than movie world. The only moments that indicate that these characters have a life outside of the ninety minutes of the film are those designed to set up a sequel.
3) Boy, give John Travolta a distinctive hairstyle and he'll eat up not only all the scenery in the movie, but part of your home....
|"Oh, Sweet Caroleen...Caroline...oh, whatever."|
4) This script is so shoddy that I did not realize that Caroline (which the characters in the film keep calling 'Caroleen') was a) a fashion designer or b) Pakistani until late in the third act. Both of these points are extremely important to the film's plot, and should be established far, far earlier...although it does make the nonsensical scene where she shows off a dress made out of their bedroom curtains a little less silly.
5) There's something risible about Reese's character arc--so the only way he can become a hero is to be an overacting, loudmouthed, over-ammo'd jerk like Travolta's Charlie Wax?
6) All the points in the script meant to give a little life to Charlie Wax just don't work. The shoutback to Pulp Fiction is particularly winge-worthy, given how the film pretty much stops dead so the jokey lines can play out. But the gags about The Karate Kid and the propensity for action films to use heavy metal also fall flat.
7) Even though there is supposed to be a face to the villains here, they're totally one dimensional, just straw men for Wax to shoot down, blow up and otherwise mutilate. Even when one of the villains mumbles stuff about having a purpose and a destiny, there's no emotional resonance because there's no weight to the character as established.
8) So you Chinese restaurant guys hide cocaine in the ceiling of your restaurant why, exactly?
|Theirs is a proper love...|
9) I kept thinking throughout this that if someone decided to do a reboot of the Matt Helm films, but tried to make them spoofy like the original movies...well, the modern Matt Helm wouldn't be too far afield from Charlie.
10) Considering that so much of this film resolves conflict by having Charlie shoot a procession of larger and larger guns--leading up to the third act set piece of Travolta chasing a faceless terrorist with a rocket launcher--there's no reason to spend so much time establishing Reese's intelligence or cunning.
In short--a shabby let down of a follow-up to Taken, too in love with its explosions and in-jokes to realize that the reason Taken worked was because you believed in the characters.