Momentum: an ex-military ‘ghost’ turned bank robber and her team get tangled up in a conspiracy after a high-tech heist. Think Salt or Colombiana but on a tighter budget and with no characterisation. Kurylenko is just right for this role: she doesn’t get to act much, runs around in a sassy robe and knickers for the first act, then does enough pouting, shooting, and punching through the rest of the movie to distract you. Purefoy on the other hand is good fun as the devilishly smarmy antagonist – essentially reprising his Joe Carrol role from The Following. Good acting feels like a bonus here as this is all about the highly styalised action; and on that front the film delivers: prolonged bank heist, car chases, home invasion, abandoned factory & airport showdowns – no box is left unchecked. For a 15-rated film, it’s pretty severe – “very strong language, strong violence, sex, sexual threat” – to quote the BBFC rating, which doesn’t even mention torture or child abuse – I kept thinking it had to be an 18. The biggest thorn in the movie’s side is the scatter-gun approach in tone: it’s a bit sci-fy-y, a bit superhero-y, a bit revenge-y, a bit quirky, a bit tasteless-y, a bit dark, and a bit leery (the girls are formidable – but still run around in their panties and hooker boots)… it makes watching Momentum confusing at times: having to judge if certain parts should be funny, or shocking, and if parts are cliché, or a more knowing parody. Momentum is a brainless, action B-movie with a hack plot (nothing wrong with that) but sports a fascinating veneer of fringe A-list actors, slick visuals, ambitious action scenes – it’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the one-star reviews and relatively unknown status would lead you to believe. An entertaining action film aimed primarily at teenage lads.
Literally dialing in his couple of scenes
Dr. Alien (AKA I Was a Teenage Sex Maniac. AKA I Was a Teenage Sex Mutant): after a bum injection from a ridiculously sexy alien a boring high-school loser becomes a mini Fonzie that can beat up jocks, front a heavy metal band, drive like a boss, and has hordes of horny wimin stripping and ravaging him continually. I suspect this may have been written by teenage boys for teenage boys? It has a weird style of humour: lots of lame and nonsensical childish gags accompanied with loud Looney Toons sound effects – in a film with boobs and (very light) sex scenes?!? With zinger punch lines like “you forgot the mustard!” and “he looked great in tight trousers!” you’d be forgiven for thinking that actual aliens wrote the script after hearing some 1920s radio plays. There’s not a whole lot else worth mentioning as everything about the movie is sub-standard: acting, script, editing and direction… even the main special effect, a ‘Hideous Fleshy Antena’ (that looks like a pouting anus) is underwhelming. In fact, the most notable aspect of this entire DVD release is that it has an X-rated porn film (Auditions, 1978) as a completely unrelated extra which brings the rating from whats’s presumably a 15 to a Hard 18! Bottom line – Dr. Alien isn’t violent, saucy, or trashy enough to be worthy of the Grindhouse, B-Movie (or even Teen Sex Comedy) branding – it’s actually a slightly naughtier Ferris Bueller / Grease / Weird Science affair.
B-Movie Score: 3/10
Rumble in the Bronx: whilst visiting his uncle in New York, Keong fom Hong Kong finds himself in the crosshairs of several gangs. The premise is basic (like the far East’s rebuttal to Black Rain – the West is full of uncivilized, violent punks!), the plot twists are silly and the acting’s borderline woeful, but this film has Jackie Chan; and an on form Jackie Chan of that! The action set pieces are still among the best you can find today; the shop fight, back alley fight, car park chase, and the superb gang den fight… action doesn’t get any better than this: strength, acrobatic skills, timing, planning, intuitive use of space & objects – it’s almost unbelievable. I could genuinely watch these scenes on loop all day and never get bored. The biggest stunts have a timeless jaw-dropping quality, mostly because they’re real and well-edited: you want to pull down a building? Lets build one to demolish! You want a hovercraft/car chase scene? Lets make it happen on real streets! Jackie Chan jumping a large gap between to 10-storey buildings? CGI boring and waste of money! Above the eye-blasting stuntwork there’s a lot of camera-friendly graffiti, clothes, cars, buildings and other such eye candy. There’s a couple of bizarre slapstick scenes that stick out like sore thumbs, but other than that, it’s all gravy. Sure it will never be on a Criterion or AFI “best films of all time” list, but Rumble in the Bronx is entertainment in one of its most pure and watchable forms, and they just don’t make ’em like this any more.
Butterfly on a Wheel (AKA Shattered. AKA Desperate Hours): A perfect couple with the perfect life have their world turned upside down when a madman jacks their car and forces them to obey him for 24 hours. The three main actors are all OK – but have major accent issues, Broz (doing an Irish terrorist a la ‘Blown Away’) and Butler (doing a… I’ve no idea what he was trying). The main issue is, with such a big ‘taaa daaaa’ at the end, it leaves the majority of the film with too much ambiguity and not enough plot / direction – hardly anything makes sense and every time the story advances you’re sitting there thinking ‘WTF did I just see?!!?’ In the words of comic book guy… Worst. Ending. Ever. Particularly it’s retrospective ridiculousness. The only real plus I can think of is that it’s very well shot – framing and camera movement are far more impressive than any of the story. All in, this is a stupid film which hopes that by putting all its cards on the table in the last 5 minutes, that it will save the day. A very low rent Man on Fire, Taken, Ransom scenario – and the fact that a film with big stars needs three titles is very telling.