Sunday, March 27, 2011

Art Of War, The (2000) - 1.5/5

Wesley Snipes is in dire need of a serious comeback. Since his "Blade" franchise crashed after its third entry and his fall from grace courtesy of the IRS, its as if he can only do the occasional direct to video affair. Thusly, to promote those good memories of one of the most loved (and hated) action stars from my childhood, I decided to take a gander at his spy thriller "The Art Of War". Oh yeah. Now I know why his career tanked!

Shaw (Snipes) isn't your usual spy. He doesn't work for some fancy country or government. He works for the US (can I get a...what what?!). And when his final mission goes awry and a Chinese ambassador gets assassinated (along with his best friend played by Biehn), he seems to be the only suspect for the crime. Now with the FBI up on his ass along with some very pissed Triads, Shaw has to find the one witness to clear his name and put the puzzle together. Can a man who doesn't exist clear a name that doesn't either?

I love me a spy thriller. Hell, I even watch the exercise in mediocrity that was "Knight And Day". "The Art Of War" is just as mediocre and ridiculous though. The problem with this film is that the potential was there. The US covert ops was a bit ridiculous, but the rest could have been a keen and sharp little 'whodunnit' film. It just doesn't work. We get a story that's quickly brushed through and rather uninspiring with its characters and twists. Not something to really build a deep mystery on. Part of this is to blame on poor directing. He paces the film awfully (enough fucking flashbacks already! One for what we saw moments ago?!) and his lack of charisma really packs on a very un-heartfelt execution. It's the most frustrating part of this movie.

"The Art Of War" also fails to really hone in on its cast. Snipes can be a very strong (and funny) presence on the screen, but this is rarely seen here. He just sort of floats through 'spy cliches 101' for the majority of the film and only occasionally rise above it (most with some fun interactions with Biehn that can be a little forced too). Even the supporting cast seems on auto pilot. How can Donald Sutherland do wrong? Okay, that's perhaps the wrong question to ask, but seriously, he should have owned that role. Only Biehn seems capable of really digging into his shallow role and it's far too brief for the film.

"The Art Of War" is just disappointing from its crappy title screen to its final moments in Paris. The potential is there, but with a poorly written script and a director with no charm (what happened to the guy from "Screamers"?), its left out in the cold with the wolves for dead. Only occasional moments can't save it, or us, from drowning poorly executed film making.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

1 comment:

  1. You are totally right. This could have been way better! Did like the Snipes-Biehn scenes though.