Monday, March 27, 2006

God Is Dead, But The Plot Device Lives On.

16 Blocks
2006, USA
Richard Donner

I broke a promise today. Long ago, I swore that should I ever again stumble upon a film that uses a hand-held tape recorded as a deus ex machina plot device, I would douse myself in gasoline and self-immolate to protest both lazy screenwriters and the effect Murder She Wrote has had on popular culture. Yet today, I sat through 16 Blocks, and still I live. Perhaps it was Mos Def’s charmingly idiosyncratic character. Perhaps it was the high-energy pacing. Or perhaps I slipped the roofie into the wrong large Pepsi, sacrificing a fun-filled evening with the girl I was babysitting in exchange for actually enjoying a movie for once . Regardless of what caused it, after 16 Blocks was done, I very strangely didn’t feel like ending my life in a fury of accelerant-fueled fire.

Me moments after watching The Inside Man.

Director Richard Donner is no stranger to action movies. He is, however, a stranger to good action movies. Those wishing to advance Lethal Weapon as evidence to the contrary should take a long, hard look at Mel Gibson’s lengthy mullet before making any hasty decisions, and what little room was left for pity in my heart was erased the moment To his credit, Donner has apparently learned a thing or two in the past few years, namely that people enjoy watching 24. 16 Blocks owes a great deal to that show, taking place in real time as it follows the attempts of a detective to get a hunted witness 16 blocks from a police station to a courthouse. Bruce Willis plays the detective, a tired, drunken old man who looks like he’s given up on life and liver, and he fits the role to a T. I think Willis is very good in this film, but I can’t be sure because I’ve never seen that happen before. What I am sure of is that 16 Blocks is a ridiculous film, even as action movies go, but manages to distract with original, captivating performances and a lightening quick pace, like a David Blaine TV special or Billy Graham.

Now, watch him pull a repressive and outdated moral code out of hat.

Which explains why the movie was so unsuccessful. Nobody wants to see an original action movie, even if it is just as unthreateningly stupid as the usual fare. 16 Blocks is an action movie without a love interest or a significantly large explosion, which is like a Martin Scorsese film without a redemption sub-text or a Harry Potter movie without a flamboyantly gay drama student in the audience. What the film does have is a lot of interesting characterization, which is no way to win an MTV Movie Award. Instead, 16 Blocks is destined to languish in the twilight zone between action and drama, rubbing shoulders with Heat and most late-period George Clooney pictures, and within spitting distance of Payback. And while cinematic purgatory may not seem like an ideal resting place for all eternity, it could be worse. You could be trapped in hell with Jessica Fletcher.


Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Cool, I might actually go see this now.

Hey Ash, Gretchkal and I want Alex, The Vampire Slayer t-shirts.
Correction, we want FREE Alex, The Vampire Slayer t-shirts.
Do you have anything with something like "Al Kratina ate my baby!" or "Al Kratina banged your little sister Productions" on it?

8:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

Jesus, jerk.

9:16 a.m.  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

No rin, I just work with Jesus.

Hey, can I get a free rin t-shirt while you're here?

10:13 a.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

I may be a racist, murdering homophobe, but I'm not actually IN jail you know. Although I appreciate the sentiment.

11:17 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Actually, my company's called Rapist Pictures. Still want a t-shirt?

5:04 p.m.  
Blogger gretchkal said...

isn't it just alex, vampire slayer?

10:20 p.m.  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Yeah, I the just like to the add the the word the to things so the that the simple the mind I have the can comprehend the things.
After much introspection (i had a couple beers), I've decided, nevermind.

7:43 a.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Damn. I lost a free sale.

5:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Rin said...

I'll give you my remaining $90 which I can't be bothered changing to pounds and some sweets for Rin, Vampire Slayer tee.

6:04 p.m.  
Blogger gretchkal said...

alas, my need to point out others errors has once again messed things up. sigh.

btw, i never said that i didn't want a free tee ... :)

4:48 p.m.  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Rin - Uh, you've got a deal. Plus shipping.

Gretchkal - I promise that the minute we make t-shirts, you'll get a free one.

8:25 p.m.  

BILLY GRAHAM IS A LUDICROUS OAF, AND DAVID BLAINE IS A TALENTLESS FART !!!, (and, yes, by the way, my name did used to be glen campbell).

9:32 a.m.  

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