There might be a good movie lurking around in there somewhere – or at least a shamelessly entertaining one – but everyone’s hard work on The Fatal Raid is so severely undone for English speaking audiences that it’s difficult to tell. While the action is still interesting to look at, the atrocious subtitles seriously diminish the context needed for any of it to really mean anything.
I can’t honestly say I was disappointed. Typical of most sequels, especially comedies, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is bigger and brasher, though not necessarily better. There’s plenty of action, a few big laughs and a serviceable plot, but also a sense that everyone’s trying a little too hard to one-up the original without really offering anything new.
Almost epic in scope, Raging Fire may not always be believable, but it’s a constantly entertaining crime thriller with a great story. Doing the preliminary legwork to fully flesh-out its characters – on both sides of the badge – certainly pays off, since we’re far more invested in them when the bullets begin to fly. Donnie Yen has seldom been better, digging into a role that showcases both his physical and dramatic skills. This is, so far, the best action movie of the year.
The entire cast certainly give their all, but the humor is embarrassingly juvenile. Loading the dialogue with expletives, misogyny and the n-word – mostly shouted at maximum volume – doesn’t make these stupidly-rendered characters or situations any funnier. However, it’s safe to assume that anyone who thought Meet the Blacks was hilarious will love The House Next Door. They’ll also be happy to learn it ends with the promise of another sequel. Everyone else can consider that a threat.
Those Who Wish Me Dead ain’t a documentary and one shouldn’t let a little unwelcome scrutiny ruin the fun. If you’re able to accept being perfectly able to breathe in the middle of a blazing first fire, the film is a fun spin on a familiar premise, with solid action, good performances and a couple of interesting bad guys.
In the handful of scenes he appears in, Willis makes his indifference painfully obvious with a performance so lackadaisical that it’s actually a distraction. Worse yet, we get the impression he thinks he’s doing everyone a favor just by showing up. Instead, his appearance is a sad reminder that Midnight in the Switchgrass is little more than derivative video fodder. Sorry, Bruce, but I’ve lost all faith in you.