Far Cry (2009)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Til Schweiger, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Udo Kier, Ralf Moeller
Directed by Uwe Boll
The year is 1987. Cannon Films has just released their latest action flick about a boozing ex-soldier living the life of a riverboat recluse hired by a leggy reporter to take her to a heavily-guarded island where together they uncover the truth about a mad scientist's scheme to create an army of zombie super soldiers for military application. The generic action set pieces consist primarily of routine shootouts and vehicle chases, with just a little hand-to-hand combat thrown in, and much of the action takes place in a dilapidated factory setting. The action star of the film speaks in a foreign voice so hampered by his native accent that every line out of his mouth sounds exactly the same regardless of what his emotion is supposed to be at the time.
Except the year is 2009 and the movie is actually the latest video game inspired motion picture from Uwe Boll.
Say what you will about Boll's films, you can typically watch them and get the sense that he's at least trying. Sure, he may badly misfire at whatever he was trying and sometimes you may not be sure what exactly he was trying for. Far Cry is what you get when Uwe Boll stops trying. Generic even by the standards of 1980's Cannon action flicks, the usual Boll movie problems abound, and even the ability to laugh at the film's shortcomings is often hampered because so much of it was written to be laughable on purpose.
Now I've never played the video game Far Cry but I do know enough about it to know that fans of the game are not going to be pleased with this movie. I suspect most people will not be pleased with this movie regardless of whether or not they've ever played the game. I know the game features a tropical island and monsters. There is an island that appears to be off the coast of non-tropical Vancouver. The way this movie opens you'd think there were monsters on the prowl. There are, sort of: bald zombified musclemen in army fatigues with bulletproof flesh the same pale skin tone as the Twilight vampires. Seeing all these rage-fueled, jacked-up, pale white bald guys running amok, at times it's like 28 Days Later meets Powder as produced by WWE Films.
Behind this military super soldier experiment gone wrong is an unscrupulous scientist (Udo Kier, sounding a tad depressed about the quality of the film he's appearing in) fully aware that his experiment is for the most part a failure and tries to paint a happy rainbow for his unhappy military sponsors by arguing there can still be some practical military applications for uncontrollable super soldiers in a perpetual state of kill frenzy.
Out to stop them is German action star Til Schweiger as ex-commando turned lazy drunken charter boat captain Jack Carver. Be on the lookout for his three facial expressions: blank, smiling, and his tough guy face. Schweiger's heavily accented voice makes him sound like he graduated top of his class from the Olivier Gruner school of one-note acting. He sounds so much like Boll himself if the DVD release features an audio commentary track with Boll and Schweiger together you'll never know which one is talking.
Not being much of an actor has never stopped an action star from being an action star, but one thing that does hurt an action star is not being all that impressive when the action starts. Oh, Schweiger is definitely athletic and looks credible doing what he does; the problem is what he does is not much and it doesn't help that Ralf Moeller's few moments of superhuman zombie super soldier carnage are more visually entertaining than any of the limited physical feats Schweiger performs. Schweiger isn't even the one that gets to kill the two main villains, for crying out loud.
To give you an idea how flat the action gets: a boat chase sees the speedboat Schweiger is steering heading straight for a randomly placed ramp in the waterway in front of him; the music swells, the comic relief sidekick yelps, and then the boat jumps the ramp in the most unspectacular manner possible. No slow motion. No explosions. No near misses. No great height. No great distance. Just a speeding boat hopping a low altitude ramp. A minor stunt that's treated as a major money shot. It'll leave you longing for the opening minutes of Universal Soldier: The Return.
If Boll had just aimed to make a straightforward action movie it still would have been predominantly flat and most definitely uninspired, but what really soured me on Far Cry are the shamefully asinine attempts at humor. The script is loaded with sophomoric punch lines that fail so miserably you'd swear you were witnessing jokes written by the guys responsible for Meet the Spartans.
The moment newspaper reporter Emmanuelle Vaugier (Not since the blonde wannabe TV reporter chick in the American Godzilla have we seen a newswoman portrayed as this big of a ninny. I mean an ace reporter who doesn't even understand that you have to pull the pin on a hand grenade?) charters Carver's boat their entire relationship is written in the style of Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd's love/hate "Moonlighting" snappy repartee, just minus the wit, the comic timing, or the romantic chemistry.
For example, they're nearly killed in a fiery car chase shootout and wind up trapped on this island being hunted by armed guards, they find an isolated shack and immediately strip down to their undies, climb into bed, and end up having off-screen sex just so they can do a running joke for the rest of the movie with him asking her to rate how he was in the sack on a scale of 1-10 and she repeatedly emasculates him with very low scores. You didn't see Chuck Norris doing lame sex jokes in the middle of Invasion USA, did you?
The worst comic relief, bypassing painfully unfunny and going straight into the realm of nails-on-chalkboard annoyance, comes with the introduction of dimwitted Emilio "the food guy", who somehow replaces Vaugier as Carver's sidekick halfway through the movie when Carver sneaks up on him to knock him out only to save the fatty from choking on a sandwich leading to them becoming unexpected allies. A tubby fraidy cat food delivery person caught in the crossfire, the guy looks like a poor man's Wayne Knight and, given his irritating habit of overselling his lines in the broadest manner possible, has the comic personality of a poor man's Gilbert Gottfried. Watching him do mock kung fu poses trying to act comically tough when confronted by a deaadly super soldier, I realized this guy belongs in an Ernest movie, not a violent R-rated action film.
Me, I can name you quite a few Cannon movies that may not be quality cinema in the conventional sense; they still make for a fun way to kill 90-minutes. I have an affinity for b-level action movies, including numerous titles from the Cannon collection. For goodness sake, I actually paid good money to watch American Cyborg: Steel Warrior at a multiplex. To my profound disappointment, though it may look and feel like a Golan-Globus production of old, Uwe Boll's Far Cry is a far cry from being an American Ninja 2: The Confrontation for a new generation.
1 1/2 out of 5
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