Born To Be Mild
Leave it to Uwe Boll to snap a guy out of writer's block. Where the Bollmeister is concerned, the opportunities to unsheath one's critical scabbard are endless. But even Boll has lost a bit of his ambitiously awful magic, now resigned to steering the generic likes of Far Cry. The latest in Boll's infamous line of movies based on video games, Far Cry isn't nearly as inept as those works that made him the Internet's favorite punching bag. Some may see this as a cause for celebration, but I'd pick something I can have a laugh at over a snooze-inducing action flick like this any day.
At a remote island facility, Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier) is conducting experiments that make Victor Frankenstein look like Marcus Welby. With some backing from Uncle Sam, the nefarious doc is transforming soldiers into superhuman killers. Valerie Cardinal (Emmanuelle Vaugier), a reporter whose uncle is involved in the whole mess, sets out to the island to expose Krieger's operations. To do so, she charters a boat captained by Jack Carver (Til Schweiger), a man dedicated to living drunk as a skunk 24-7. But when the pair get attacked, Carver reveals himself to be quite the skilled soldier, leaning upon years of military training to combat Krieger's creations and blow the lid on his scientific meddlings.
I missed out on the Far Cry series, though I think I get the jist. They involve your usual shoot-em-up material, enhanced by sprawling and gorgeously-rendered environments. If that's the case, then Boll goes way off target, for Far Cry is mostly set in one place (a dreary factory in the middle of nowhere) and there's surprisingly little action. The script has certainly imported all the stock characters and artificial wit that tend to populate so-called adrenaline rushes, but it takes forever to make with the thrills. There's a truck chase that comes across alright and a lame boat pursuit, though they're separated by such lagging down time, you've long since zoned out when the third act dishes out more gunplay. Next to no flair has been exercised here; the super soldiers occasionally lapse into bullet time, but they mostly just shove extras to their doom and glower like they need some Beano on the double.
All this is business as usual for B-cinema buffs, but Far Cry isn't bad enough to quality as a guilty pleasure. It's as bland as movies can get, lumbering through its action sequences as if it knows what they are but can't mimic the good times they deliver. Not much about it appears terrible, except for Natalia Avelon's hilarious turn as a Krieger flunky and Chris Coppola as someone who embodies more fat guy stereotypes than in all of Paul Blart. Even Boll's penny-pinching ways rarely show; for the most part, Far Cry's production value looks pretty solid. As for its stars, Schweiger is a capable fellow (as demonstrated by his scene-stealing coolness in Inglourious Basterds), but he's not a leading man yet. He's got the garbled accent of a Schwarzenegger but none of the self-knowing cheese. Vaugier has the looks down pat, though she can't make her spontaneous relationship with Jack feel any more plausible.
Sorry to disappoint those hoping for more fuel to fan their hatred of Herr Boll, but Far Cry ends up as nothing to form a petition about. It stinks, yes, but no more so than what Olivier Gruner or Gary Daniels would churn out in their time. Steven Seagal may be breathing a sigh of relief somewhere now, for if Far Cry offers any hint, he'll soon be supplanted as the king of mediocre action.
MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)
(Released by Splendid Entertainment/WVG and rated "R" for bloody violence.)