This slapdash mess of an explosion movie wastes the talents of its cast and can’t even slow down to let us enjoy the fight scenes. I don’t care if the plot doesn’t make sense to me, but I like to have it make sense to the people who are in the movie. No such luck. At least two times, characters avoid having to deal with trivialities like analyzing clues or explaining how they know where they are supposed to go next. They squint their eyes and say, “I just know.”
I just know, too. They have to go to wherever so that we can check off one more on the list of things someone thought would be cool in an action movie. Strip club? Check. Tank crashing into a building? Check. Race through city streets and up stairways in all-terrain vehicles? Check. Blowing up a helicopter? Check. Escaping from a blowing-up helicopter? Check. Letting us get an inside-the throat perspective when a character gets and explosive devise shoved into his mouth, so we can see him blow up from the inside? Check. Making any sense, including any dramatic tension, letting us watch any individual fight scene for more than a short-attention-span-theater-style 20 seconds? Nah.
To the extent that the movie is about anything, it is about this: a lot of different people want some fancy black diamonds, so everyone steals them from everyone else and then all the international rogue nations get together and bid on them commodities-style, though they show so little understanding of commodity pricing that they would be wiped out faster than pets.com and they are far more civilized than commodities traders, too. Then there are some more fights. Then they have the nerve to set things up for a sequel.
DMX showed some charisma and promise in “Exit Wounds,” the last film by this director, but he does not have enough to do here. His character — high-tech superstar thief who preys on bad guys by day/loving daddy who prays with his adorable and spunky daughter by night — just does not work. The delicious Gabrielle Union (“Deliver us from Eva”) is wasted as kick-boxing arm candy who is even forced to do a strip tease to provide a distraction while her boyfriend is tossing the room next store. Jet Li looks like he’d rather be someplace else. Tom Arnold and Anthony Andersen provide some flashes of humor.
The plot is not just murky, which is forgiveable; it is manipulative, which is not. It is shameless to have the little girl kidnapped by the bad guys to make us see how truly evil they are and make us feel some commitment to the outcome. It is even more shameless to have the black diamonds turn out to be a power source for super-destructive weapons. But what is really unforgiveable here is the waste of the movie’s primary asset, Jet Li’s ability to fight, by filming the scenes so poorly that we don’t really get a good look at what he can do.
Parents should know that the movie is extremely violent, with a lot of intense peril, many character deaths, and graphic wounds. A little girl is in peril and bound and gagged. Characters use extremely bad language, including racial epithets, but the group of good guys is racially diverse. Characters drink and smoke. A character pretends to be gay in order to distract a gay security guard, and there are some mild stereotypes.
Families who see this movie should talk about how a movie like this may be seen differently now, when the world seems poised on the brink of war, then it might have when the script was written.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Transporter.”