Starring Jason London, Andrea Bogart, Darlena Tejeiro, Tim Sitarz
Directed by Ron Wolotzky
Great googily moogily; is this movie ever awful! I mean really awful in a what the hell kind of movie was this supposed to be sort of way. Horror movie? Crime thriller? Chase flick? Female empowerment film? I don’t know exactly what kind of movie Axe was supposed to be, and I suspect the people that made it don’t either. It has elements of all the genre types I listed but not enough of any to fall into one category or another. The film’s original title was Greed. The fact that MTI has changed it to Axe and decided to focus the marketing of the film around selling it as a horror film pretty much tells you that they know what a mess the film is and taken the easy and somewhat sneaky route by trying to pass it off as a straightforward horror flick.
Rock climbing babes Raven and Ashley have headed out to the desert for a little adventure. Their adventure really begins when some criminal bikers arrive at the dive of a bar they girls are having a drink at. While this encounter isn’t particularly pleasant, it still doesn’t come across as something that should escalate into Raven pulling a gun and a dirt bike chase ensuing. When the dust settles, Raven and Ashley come to realize that they’ve also ended up with a pouch full of stolen cash. Naturally, the bikers want the money back. At the same time, a homicidal maniac known in the media as “The Axeman” has escaped prison and taken up killing again, albeit with a machete until he’s able to find another axe. The police psychologist that has shown up to assist the sheriff seems to be more interested in getting it on with the hunky sheriff, who himself knows more about the stolen money. Other characters are introduced as well; almost all are after the money themselves.
Jason London is given top billing because he’s something of a name despite the fact that he only plays a minor supporting role that’s in the movie for 10-15 minutes tops. The real stars are the two women who you’re supposed to be rooting for, and yet there is absolutely no reason to do so. Latina Denise Richards clone Darlena Tejeiro’s turn as Raven is a performance that reeks of that one-note, perpetually angry bitch with trust issues that Michelle Rodriguez has cornered the market on. Andrea Bogart, last seen mostly naked in the abysmal werewolf flick Darkwolf, portrays Ashley, although given the nothingness of the role I don’t think “portrays” would be an accurate term. Being thin and blonde are about all there is to her. Despite no shortage of cleavage and frequent underwear scenes, we’re denied any actual nudity from the lead actresses. Heck, I don’t think the two of them stripping naked and writhing around in baby oil for ten minutes would have made the movie any better. It would at least have been a nice reward for sitting through the rest of it.
The worst acting offense goes to the guy playing the leader of the biker gang. I don’t know what the guy was doing with his voice or if it was just natural but it was very distracting, very grating, and made his overacting that much painful to sit through.
As for The Axeman, he’s described by the news media as 6’5″ and weighing 300+ pounds; a sickle-shaped scar runs down his face. The media builds him up as a terrifying killing machine. The female psychologist talks about him in much the same way that Dr. Loomis spoke of Michael Myers. When we finally get our first really good look at this seemingly superhuman killing machine about halfway in… to call it a letdown would be an understatement. This guy is one of the least menacing unstoppable movie killers ever. He looks like the 15th runner-up in a Bill Goldberg look-a-like contest, and by that I mean he may be a really big bald guy with a goatee but he looks as ordinary as every other big bald guy with a goatee. Not scary in the least. Like most horror movie slashers, he takes physical punishment that would kill any normal person only to get back up and come back for more. This may work in your typical slasher film, but just comes across as stupid here.
Aside from the two female leads, everyone in the film that doesn’t kill one another before or after double-crossing someone ends up getting chopped up by the Axeman. But even with the homicidal maniac, getting his hands on the stolen money turns out to be a big part of the equation.
So after bad acting, bad dialogue, dull action scenes, even duller axe murders, and a barely intelligible plot that drags on and on, the movie finally delivers some entertainment with an utterly hysterical sequence towards the end with the Axeman chasing after the women on a four-wheeler, chopping at their car with his axe. It looks as ludicrous as it sounds. He finally manages to barely run them off the road, yet the next time you see the girls they’ve ditched the car are hightailing it on foot. The finale is built around them using their mountain climbing to get away from the Axeman who is coming up after them, climbing with one hand and swinging away at them with his axe with the other. You have to admire such determination – and such utter mindlessness. This still doesn’t make up for the terrible 85 minutes that preceded it.
By the end, Axe felt like it had either been written to primarily be a comedy but the director didn’t completely get the joke, or the whole thing was just a really dumb, really bad attempt at making a Tarantino-esque film where nearly everyone is excessively glib and are constantly double-crossing one another to get their hands on some stolen loot. I’d dare compare this film’s script to that of Alone in the Dark except Axe is a bit more coherent despite being every bit as illogical. Axe is the kind of badness that can only be achieved by a film that seems to have loftier ambitions but completely fails at achieving whatever it was going for in every conceivable manner. Horror movie, noir, action thriller, chick flick – it fails on all counts.
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