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The Marksman (October 6/05)

The Marksman marks Wesley Snipes' third direct-to-video actioner in less than a year - following Unstoppable and 7 Seconds - and it's impossible not to wonder what's compelling the actor to appear in such low-rent fare. For some inexplicable reason, Snipes appears to be positioning himself as the next Steven Seagal - which would be fine if The Marksman weren't such a thoroughly inept and curiously non-violent action flick.

Snipes plays a mysterious mercenary known only as Painter, whose latest mission takes him to a Chechen nuclear power plant - where a group of evil terrorists are threatening to set off a live reactor. Though his objective is to secure the reactor and save the hostages (several American scientists just happened to be working there when the bad guys showed up), Painter's superiors make it clear that his priority is the reactor. However, it's not long before Painter discovers that he's being set up - leaving him with little choice but to take on all the terrorists single-handedly.

The first hour or so of The Marksman is almost entirely devoid of action sequences, with the emphasis instead placed on Painter's surreptitious antics within the nuclear plant. The complete and total lack of character development makes it exceedingly difficult to care about Painter's efforts, something that's exacerbated by a typically stoic performance from Snipes. And though the movie does admittedly pick up once Painter learns he's been double-crossed, director Marcus Adams' decision to eschew hand-to-hand combat in favor of various gun battles is undoubtedly a disappointment.

It certainly doesn't help that the DVD - from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment - is lacking both subtitles and captions, which transforms the viewer's efforts to comprehend most of the dialogue into an exasperating ordeal. Then again, the screenplay - by J.S. Cardone and Andy Hurst - features lines like, "are your nerves shaking? That means your instincts are turned on," so perhaps it's not such a bad thing that most of the dialogue is virtually impossible to make out.

Snipes' downward spiral continues with The Marksman, which is too bad, really, since he's a genuinely talented actor who deserves better material than this.

out of

About the DVD: The Marksman is presented with an anamorphically enhanced transfer, along with several bonus trailers (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, 7 Seconds, Unstoppable, Submerged, and It's All Gone Pete Tong).