Two Thrillers from Alliance
The Boxer and the Bombshell (October 4/11)
Written and directed by Jonathan Ogilvie, The Boxer and the Bombshell details the love triangle that ensues between a vicious boxing promoter (Hugo Weaving's McHeath), his fetching girlfriend (Rose Byrne's Iris) , and an up-and-coming pugilist (Matt Le Nevez's Art). The situation is complicated by McHeath's shady business dealings and his eventual efforts at fixing a pivotal boxing match, with the movie also boasting a number of periphery subplots that seem designed purely to pad out the overlong running time (eg two of McHeath's goons fight over who gets to date Pia Miranda's Daisy). Filmmaker Ogilvie initially offers up a slow-moving period drama that grows more and more tedious as it unfolds, with the novelty of the stellar performances and evocative '20s atmosphere inevitably wearing off and forcing the viewer to search desperately for something (anything) of interest of latch onto. The increasingly stale atmosphere is exacerbated by the progressive emphasis on entirely uninteresting elements, as Ogilvie suffuses the film's latter half with one aggressively pointless sequence after another - which handily ensures that The Boxer and the Bombshell fizzles out to an almost astonishing degree (ie the movie's final half hour is nothing less than insufferable and interminable). The end result is a hopelessly misguided endeavor that wastes the talents of its admittedly impressive cast, and it's ultimately impossible not to wonder just what Ogilvie originally set out to accomplish with this mess.
Drive Angry casts Nicolas Cage as John Milton, a hardened criminal who has escaped from Hell for the sole purpose of avenging his daughter's death. Along with a scrappy waitress (Amber Heard's Piper), Milton embarks on a campaign of violence as he works his way towards a callous cult leader (Billy Burke's Jonah King) - with the character's efforts complicated by the ongoing presence of a sinister figure known only as The Accountant (William Fichtner). It's an unabashedly outrageous premise that's employed to consistently underwhelming effect by filmmaker Patrick Lussier, as the director is simply (and consistently) unable to transform the movie into the fun, over-the-top thrill ride that one might've expected. This is despite the inclusion of several broadly conceived and executed action sequences - eg Milton takes out a room full of thugs while having sex - with the movie's reality-bending, pervasively meaningless vibe draining such moments of their excitement (ie it's difficult to work up much interest in the ongoing exploits of a seemingly invincible protagonist). The one bright spot within the proceedings is Fichtner's unapologetically flamboyant turn as The Accountant, as the actor does a superb job of infusing the otherwise stale atmosphere with all-too-sporadic jolts of energy. (Fichtner's engaging performance certainly stands in sharp contrast to Burke's flat, hopelessly dull work as the movie's central villain.) It is, as such, finally impossible to label Drive Angry as anything more than a tedious waste of time, with the distractingly low-rent visuals only compounding the film's many, many problems.