Tuesday, 24 May 2011
The Way of War
THE WAY OF WAR (2009)
Directed by: John Carter
Screenplay: Scott Schaffer
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, John Terry, Jaclyn Desantis, JK Simmons & Clarence Williams III
So it seems Cuba Gooding Jr has also found himself headlining straight-to-DVD action thrillers, joining a club that features the likes of Wesley Snipes, Val Kilmer and Jean Claude Van Damme (all regular straight-to-DVDers). Nothing particularly wrong with that as some have been pretty decent (Hero Wanted, Linewatch) and some not so (Hardwired) but The Way of War has to be the worst (at least of the ones I have seen) that he has released over the last few years. From the title, trailer and artwork this looked like it might have been an enjoyable military themed action film. Well, all this proved deceptive as while The Way of War is certainly military themed, it has very little action and is rarely enjoyable.
At first glance the film seems to have a decent (if predictable) set-up as Gooding Jr plays special forces dude David Wolfe who, deployed somewhere in the Middle East with his unit, is charged with taking out a terrorist leader with the name, The Ace of Spades. But sensing something is a miss (and with the subsequent killing of his unit) he returns to the States to suss out what is going on and find out who is setting him up and get revenge for the death of his squad. At least that's what appears to be going on as after a good 45 minutes or so of nothing really happening, lengthy monologues about the nature of war and pointless scenes of Gooding Jr riding around in a taxi, it's hard to tell what is going on.
Despite a decent cast and some slick production values, The Way of War goes nowhere slowly, with nothing exciting happening during the entire running time. The fractured timeline doesn't help either, with constant and pointless flashbacks and cutaways taking place in the middle of scenes meaning any pace or tension is lost. This renders Wolfe's plight uninteresting and without pace and while the makers have attempted to make a serious war themed thriller (which is fair enough) the cringe inducing (and obligatory) quotes from Sun Tzu's Art of War and constant ramblings from various characters make The Way of War a disappointing (and often pretentious) bore.
There is next to no action, though Gooding Jr does, inexplicably and bizarrely, end up in some kind of underground fighting tournament at one point calling himself the War Machine (!!??). To be fair the cast do well with what they are given, especially a likeable Clarence Williams III, and the production is slick but unfortunately The Way of War just adds up to a whole lot of dull.