WAR - Jet Li and Jason Statham
This movie was bad. Not just bad but I'm talking *major* suckage.
I can't blame Li. I can't blame Statham. I love them both.
It was even a good concept, which I will now SPOIL because it makes no difference at all because the movie sucked so badly.
The neat concept is that a hitman is sent after an FBI agent and his family. The hit man kills the wife and child before making sure that the FBI agent is dead. The FBI agent kills the hitman (who was a notorious assassin of the FBI agent's knowledge) and takes the hitman's identity in order to destroy the person who ordered the hit. (Leaving the hitman's body to be mistaken for his own, after he burns the house down.)
But we don't know that.
The dead FBI agent's partner is distraught and goes on a rampage to find the person he knows carried out the hit. Years later his life is rather bleak, his wife left him, and he... finds a clue.
The hitman is in town. The Yakuza and Triads are at the boiling point. There is lots of violence, gun battles and assassinations. The FBI, for reasons incomprehensible, respond to this by shooting *everyone*.
At this point I'm groaning, my husband is disgusted, and I'm saying things like "It wasn't made in the US." My husband is rolling his eyes at me like that was random. I'm like, "No, that's why. It's a foreign movie."
You see, there is one thing in all those rogue cop shows and movies that *must* be there. And that is that the Dirty Harry or whatever character is always in trouble with the boss. *Always*. He's always about to be fired. Or *is* fired. IF the plan was to portray the FBI agent played by Statham as someone who has stepped over the line, they missed putting the line in the movie. It was not at all clear that he was *supposed* to be acting out because of overwhelming guilt and a need for vengeance. We didn't find that out until the very very end and even then it was not apparent. When something isn't even apparent in hindsight in a movie, we've got issues.
Jet Li is the "dead" FBI agent who has gotten plastic surgery in order to impersonate the hitman who was known for changing his appearance. He's orchestrating the war between the Triads and Yakuza, killing them off and getting them to kill each other for ONE thing. He is doing this to that the Yakuza godfather will travel to the United States where he will be accessible and killable because he is the person who ordered the hit and who specifically included "wife and child" in that order.
So, the living FBI agent wants vengeance for his friend. The "dead" FBI agent wants vengeance for his wife and child. Statham's character believes that the assassin he's chasing is to blame but the assassin is actually his friend. (It *is* a really great concept, no?) They meet. They part. No one the wiser.
Now, finally Li's character is alone with the Yakuza lord and just before killing him, the head Yakuza says, "It was Crawford. It was Crawford." Wow, that came out of left field. So Li's character thinks of the telling moments he never noticed before that reinforce the truth that it was his very own friend who arranged to have him killed. I'm thinking, "Don't let someone you know demands the murder of children play with your mind!" Still, thinking, that what will happen is that he choses to trust his old partner.
It was really Crawford. He really set up the family. He says, "I thought they'd just rough you up a little." (Where's a desk, I need to slam my head into it repeatedly.) We're supposed to think, "Oh, that's why he was so out of control" or not, who knows? And then an FBI sniper gets Li's character in his sights and Crawford is redeemed by jumping in front of his old partner and saving his life. But his old partner shoots him anyway.
And everyone lives happily, or not, ever after.
Li drives off in a absolutely fabulous car to continue his life as an assassin and I'm like.... Wow, it's not just a foreign movie, it's a pilot for a foreign television series. (Or movie series... maybe Rogue is supposed to be the Asian Bond or something.)
There were other annoyances. They hardly rate.
This could have been a good movie with just a couple of very fundamental changes. We should have known that Crawford was bought from the very beginning. Had we known that he was bought and that his actions were an attempt to deal with guilt and make up for what he felt personally responsible for the movie itself would have been about his redemption. The gratuitous shooting of everyone by the FBI would still need to be scaled back, but at least it would have been clear that Crawford *was* over the edge and why.
I wanted this movie to be good.