Monday, April 16, 2012

Sinners and Saints

Directed by William Kaufman.
2010. Rated R, 104 minutes.
Johnny Strong
Kevin Phillips
Costas Mandylor
Sean Patrick Flanery
Bas Rutten
Method Man
Kim Coates
Tom Berenger
Jurgen Prochnow
Brooklyn Sudano
Jolene Blalock

Wanna see a good old fashioned shoot ‘em up? Well, it’s not quite old fashioned. This isn’t some black and white western where the smoke from a revolver and the bad guy slumping over then falling off his horse is as graphic as it gets. Au contraire mon frère. This is thousands of rounds being fired from all manner of weaponry. We literally see the hole as its being created for every shot that hits a human body, complete with blood gushing out. Take that into consideration before pressing play. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, have at it.

To put you even more at ease, or disturb you further, Sinners and Saints plays like a remake of the first Lethal Weapon, only gorier. The major “modern” update is that this movie is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. As you may know from the Nicolas Cage vehicle Bad Lieutenant, nothing good happens in ‘Nawlins these days. Ever. Johnny Strong stars as Mel Gibson…er…uh…Det. Sean Riley. Trust me, his real name is far more suited to the character. Instead of putting his own gun in his mouth when he wakes up every morning, he drives down to the cemetery where his son is buried to keep himself depressed. Actually, he sleeps there on most nights. His boy died of leukemia over a year ago and his wife left him shortly after. Apparently, the only thing that makes him feel better is killing people. He does this with great regularity. First on the list is a gang of bad guys he and his partner try to bust in a rickety old house. The partner does something incredibly dumb and takes a bullet in the throat from the obligatory random black drug dealers holed up inside. Of course, Riley goes to work. Gotta establish how much of a badass he is, right? Why yes, the partner dies.

It takes a little while, but we eventually meet our hero’s new partner, Danny Glover. Oops, I meant to say Det. Will Ganz (Phillips). Will is definitely a younger version of Glover's Murtaugh. This means we unfortunately don’t get to hear him say “I’m too old for this…” Otherwise, he’s much the same: black with a wife and two kids he looks forward to seeing at the end of every shift. They keep him grounded, so he’s a lot more level-headed, meaning boring, than Riley. The most interesting part about him is that his lovely wife is played by Brooklyn Sudano who played Vanessa on the sitcom “My Wife and Kids.” This is also the most interesting thing about her, too. Anyhoo, Det. Will is played by Kevin Phillips. This bears mentioning because he’s not even one-tenth the actor Danny Glover is. He delivers every line as if he’s reading it aloud directly from the script. It’s a cringe-worthy performance. Surprisingly, the best acting is done by the underused Method Man. He’s the only one who even makes an attempt at a New Orleans accent. Speech patterns aside, his character is actually interesting and interesting to look at. More of him wouldn’t have hurt.

Believe it, or not, there is a plot. Someone has been slaughtering whole houses full of people. A reporter and his family get killed, later a fake ID maker and his cohorts, etc. At least one person in each case is set on fire, doused, and set on fire a few more times until dying. Nice. Well, its up to our heroes Super Mel and Bland Danny to figure out how these cases are related and catch whoever is responsible. Meanwhile, Super Mel is being investigated by Internal Affairs because people keep winding up dead in his presence. By the way, Tom Berenger plays the ornery captain that keeps tabs on him.

The problem with S and S is that it gets to be rather silly without being aware of this, at all. Like many cop flicks before it, and as I’ve already beaten into the ground, the construct is pretty much ripped from Lethal Weapon, but it has none of that franchises sense of humor. It’s a somber, brooding affair that takes itself dreadfully serious. Meanwhile, Super Mel is routinely outdueling groups of high-powered automatic weapon wielding professional killers with just his nine millimeter and athletic prowess. Why yes, these pro killers are expert shots whenever they’re not shooting at our hero. It starts out as cool, but as Super Mel does more and more amazing feats it gets to be overwhelming. My brother watched it with me and he put it best: “All this dude’s missing is a cape.”

MY SCORE: 5/10

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