Wednesday, 28 January 2009
HERO WANTED (2008)
Directed by: Brian Smrz
Written by: Chad & Evan Law
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, Norman Reedus & Ray Liotta
Hero Wanted comes from action/stunt supreme Brain Smrz (Face/Off, Die Hard 4.0), making his directional debut, and while it isn’t wholly successful in it’s non-linear story telling approach and serious take on an action film, it is nevertheless a tough and entertaining slice of hard boiled action. Liam Case (Gooding Jr) is a pretty decent guy trying to get by. Having lost his wife in a terrible car accident he gets a second chance at heroics when he rescues a young girl from a burning crashed car. Somewhat rejuvenated with life, Case decides to ask the foxy girl at his local bank out to try and put the past behind him. But having a serious case of the nerves, he orchestrates his buddy to pretend to hold up the bank so he can save her and this way overcome his fear of, well, talking to her. However, Case’s buddy, Swain (Reedus) isn’t exactly a great friend and roping in his gang of violent criminal friends they decide to rob the bank for real. This leads to the death of Miss foxy bank teller (the incredibly foxy Christa Campbell) and sets Case on a course of revenge which involves lots and lots of shooting.
Now no-one will claim Hero Wanted’s plot exists in any kind of reality (asking your buddy to pretend to rob a bank just so you can talk to a girl, a case in point) but as a slice of hard bolied action noir, Hero Wanted works surprisingly well. With slick production values, competent direction and all the actors delivering committed performances, Hero Wanted offers something a little different to the action genre. We still have some awesomely brutal fights and an epic shootout but we also get nicely fleshed out characters. Gooding Jr is very good as the conflicted and mortally wounded (both mentally and physically) Case, if a little over earnest in some scenes. However, the scenes he shares with Jean Smart, playing the mother of the foxy bank teller, are deftly handled and bring a very touching human element to a very violent film. The bad guys (Reedus, Kim Coates, Tommy Flanagan, Steven Kozlowski) are all thoroughly nasty and evil; though, refreshingly, don’t end up dead in the expected stereotyped manner. There is also good support from Ben Cross, Todd Jensen and the always great Ray Liotta.
The flick unfolds in a non-linear fashion, meaning events flip flop back on one another until they finally straighten out into a coherent manner. It’s an effective, if little confusing, narrative tool that adds something a little extra to the usual story of a man taking up arms to right some wrongs. The dialogue is appropriately hard bitten and sweary and the character interaction pleasingly witty, dynamic and in certain scenes, emotional. On top of that, there is some corking action. Not least two down and very dirty fights, one in a mechanics work shop and another is night club bathroom. Violent, inventive and they hit hard.
Not a film for everyone or every action fan but a worthy attempt at doing something a little different and overall, a very entertaining slice of pulp action fiction. Good stuff.