Monday, 3 August 2009

Far Cry (2008)

I felt the same way as you, Til

I love Uwe Boll, he makes the most entertaining video game movies around. Sure, they're terrible but they're hilariously terrible as opposed to being just plain mediocre (I'm looking at you, Max Payne). I don't really care that he doesn't respect the source material because let's face it, video game plots are usually a slapped-together Frankenstein's monster of stolen movie sequences and storytelling cliches. For example, Far Cry. I'm more of a console gamer, so I never got to play the PC game on which this movie is based, although I did play the console version Far Cry Instincts which had the kind of generic video game plot that seems like it was scribbled into the margins of the design document by an unpaid intern. The movie roughly follows the plot of the game, somehow managing to dumb it down along the way.

Jack Carver (Til Schweiger) is a retired Special Forces commando, now the lazy, drunken captain of a charter boat. He is hired by ace reporter Valerie Cardinal (Emmanuelle Vaugier), who wants to investigate a mysterious island (the tropical setting of the game has been exchanged for the budget-friendly Canadian wilderness) where a rogue geneticist Dr Krieger (the always villainous Udo Kier) is turning people into bullet-proof super soldiers. It's also personal for her, as her informant is also her uncle Max (Ralf Moeller from that terrible Conan TV series) and Carver's former war buddy. Unfortunately Max has already been discovered as a spy turned him into the latest guinea pig for their experiments. Soon Krieger's men have blown up Carver's boat and the two of them are on the run with Krieger's men in pursuit.

Krieger is one of those evil movie scientists with an autocratic management style that is probably damaging to employee morale. For instance, when an employee threatens to leave the organisation, rather than arranging further discussion or mediation he immediately murders him. When testing combat effectiveness of his creatures, rather than controlled laboratory tests he sends his unwitting employees into a death trap. If he'd used a more democratic management style then his employees might have been more reluctant to jump ship when all the creatures escaped and he probably wouldn't have ended up murdered by his own creations.

Krieger also invites one of his military sponsors to check out his handiwork. He's surprisingly co-operative when Krieger hands him a gun and asks him to shoot one of their test subjects (they are bulletproof everywhere except the eyes or mouth) and he is pleased with the results. However, he's less than impressed when Krieger tells him that he hasn't yet got that pesky "free will" thing under control and they are basically unstoppable bulletproof killing machines. As if that could possibly go wrong. (spoiler) It goes wrong. (end spoiler)

Carver is an interesting character because he's got a macho, abrasive exterior (he's rude to a couple of stereotypical American tourists who are apparently dumb enough to book a whale-watching tour in a Canadian river) but he's also plagued by insecurities about his sexual performance. Early in the film he bangs Valerie in one of those sex scenes that inevitably happen within 24 hours of the protagonists meeting each other. However, the next morning he starts asking her about his performance and forces her to rate it out of ten. She gives him a 2, which is not a great score but he was suffering from hypothermia and a bullet wound so he's lucky he was able to perform at all. For the rest of the film he continually bugs her about it, which is supposed to be funny but thanks to a bad script and Schweiger's performance it just makes him seem really desperate for approval.

Valerie is no prize catch either, not only can she not identify a hand grenade, she does not understand that you have to pull the pin before you throw it. Naturally she gets kidnapped at some point during the film so the wacky sidekick position is filled by Boll regular Chris Coppola as Emillio the "Food Guy". It's been well established that Boll thinks fat people are instant LOLs, and true to form in Emillio's first scene he nearly chokes to death on a meatball sub. For the next painful half hour or so he whines, screams and mugs for the camera. At some point I guess even Boll got sick of him because he just disappears from the movie entirely.

This movie takes a generic 80s action movie plot and executes it with as little creativity or innovation as possible. As such it's a fitting match for Boll's storytelling abilities, and for once he manages to make a film that isn't overly confusing or hard to follow. The action in the film is a mixed bag but generally unremarkable. During a speedboat chase Boll tries to use music and editing to turn a jump over tiny ramp into a spectacular stunt set-piece with less than convincing results but there's also a couple of decent chases in the film that even Boll's editing fails to completely ruin. Unfortunately it all adds up to a film that is merely forgettable rather than jaw-droppingly horrible. The is Boll's most competent film yet, so it's also his worst.

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