Hey folks, Harry here with that damn Outlaw Vern chiming in on LOVE AND A BULLET, which is... I believe an inane Reese Witherspoon Romantic Comedy that will make you weep, laugh and cheer. Awwwww, it's an Outlaw Vern sort of film, he gets touchy feely like that. And he's dead right about the coming civil wars of Comic Traditionalists and Revisionists and the deaths upon the fields of dishonor! I tell ya, TWO TOWERS has nothing on it! hehehe
Did you notice how Mel Gibson's Jesus movie was really controversial in the talkbacks until you mentioned Superman? Man I don't think I've ever seen the newsies so worked up. I think in about 20 years when this generation of "geeks" is in power we will see comic book fundamentalists controlling governments around the world the way religious fundamentalists do today. Trying to force their Superfriends morals on everybody else. Some nutty congressman from the Utility Belt will get them to hang up the X-Men letters page in schools and courthouses. It'll be an interesting time.
But until then this is what I got for you boys, a review of LOVE AND A BULLET starring some rapper named Treach, due to be released on video December 3rd. I happened to watch this during my usual patrol of straight-to-video screeners thinking it would be more garbage. Apparently it has played in theaters somewhere, but how was I supposed to know? I never heard of it. Anyway, the reason I wanted to review it is because it's SURPRISINGLY UN-BAD.
Now I'm not gonna claim it's great, because it's not. In fact it's yet another self consciously hip hitman-comedy and I guarantee it will annoy the shit out of many of you. But I was surprised to find myself laughing with alot of the jokes and ultimately enjoying the thing. It's loaded with cliches but it mixes them around in ways you don't always expect and sometimes it surprises you. Having watched other straight-to-video-urban-action-thrillers such as EASTSIDAZ and URBAN MENACE and WAR STORIES I think it is important for those of us who watch that kind of crap to praise those who are able to work in this genre and rise one or two millimeters above mediocrity. Even in the worst parts, you at least can tell they're TRYING, and sadly you don't see that every day. Good job boys.
The movie is written and directed by Ben Ramsey and Kantz. I have no clue who this Kantz clown is (maybe a roommate of McG or Kaos?) but the other guy apparently wrote that Mark Wahlberg sensitive hitman comedy THE BIG HIT. The action in that movie was better than in this one, but this one is funnier. The hitman character here, Malik Bishop, is not quite as sensitive. In fact he's a big asshole who got where he is in the world by mowing down a bunch of untouchables who offended him by showing up late.
"It's not professional," he keeps saying, and we've heard that type of shit a million times just since RESERVOIR DOGS. Get it, it's crime, but it's a job. When people make movies like this you get the feeling they think they made that idea up. They don't even know about the gangster corporation in Richard Stark's Parker novels. But in this movie I thought after the initial annoyance, it started to work and do new things with the concept. For example, there is a scene where Malik's mentor confronts their white boss about institutional racism within the organization and how the black hitmen get the shitty jobs and the white ones get the promotions. The actor Sam Scarber is real good and makes the scene both funny and kind of dramatic and sad.
By the way, how come people who make movies think that there are a million hitmen in the world? Like, everywhere you go, you find a hitman. It's like on TV, every single person is a doctor or a lawyer or a cop. In movies, you're either a psychologist to the mafia, a serial killer with an ambitious MO, a hitman, or you're an evil flying guy from Krypton who works for the CIA but really you are sort of undercover and don't worry the CIA are still good guys, you are only pretending to be with the CIA even though you're a bad guy from Krypton.
The story jumps all over the place with lots of intertitles and nonstop voiceover narration and cute shit like that. It starts with Malik staking out the boss's fiancee's apartment, because she might be cheating on him. He's watching her through a scope, waiting for the word to kill her. He explains that he does his workout at the same time she does, sleeps at the same time as she does, and starts to feel like they are a married couple. You know what this means right away: he's in love with her, she's too beautiful to kill, blah blah blah. As he explains this he starts going off on tangents, like how he got there, and tangents within tangents like who his first love was and etc., and this becomes the movie.
There are some good uses of the Theory of Badass Juxtaposition. One of the standout scenes is when Malik does a hit and disposes of the bodies while simultaneously trying to prepare a Thanksgiving feast. The humor is just this side of forced, but I started to laugh as his narration about the cooking started to get more detailed. It almost reminded me of the facial scrub monologue in AMERICAN PSYCHO.
This scene also had my favorite joke in the movie. When his boss interupts his Thanksgiving preparations to tell him to kill somebody, he tries to get out of it and suggests another co-worker for the job. But that guy couldn't do it because there was a special 2-hour tv movie of HOMICIDE on.
But the best part of the movie is when it gets back to him staking out the woman's apartment, waiting to kill her. You have known since the beginning of the movie exactly what was gonna happen. And then, well, something else happens. And you get what I call the OSIO moment, or "Oh shit, it's on." The filmatists agree with my description I guess because they even included an intertitle that says "IT'S ON."
What follows, unfortunately, is not the type of knock your balls out the window action that a proper OSIO moment makes you crave. It's mostly a bunch of guys with ski masks running around shooting. Kinda stupid. But at least there is a little breakdancing, and Malik shoots a guy's leg off, which is always enjoyable.
The cast is pretty good. Treach is not one of them revelations or anything but he does a worthy job and I like the deadpan way he delivers the sometimes ridiculous narration. The music is pretty cheesy, but you get over it. Overall, LOVE AND A BULLET is a surprisingly not-that-bad almost-straight-to-video movie. I honestly think if they had their heart in it, they could make a pretty good franchise out of this character. (They are already trying with an animated tie-in called THE CONTRACT but judging from the short on UrbanEntertainment.Com it is probaly not that hot.)
Anyway thanks boys,