April Rain (2014)

April Rain (2014)- 1\2 *

Directed by: Luciano Saber

Starring: Luke Goss, Andrew Keegan, Ryan Guzman, Vincent Spano, and Ming-Na Wen

Watching The Weather Channel provides more thrills and excitement than this movie. Here’s our forecast: you won’t be watching this anytime soon. Man, we really suffer for this site. We’ve sat through plenty of turkeys, and...this is another one. While this does have that low-budget, painfully DTV look, those aren’t the main problems. The whole tone of the movie just seems off - it will occasionally lapse into being a soap opera, then there’s a silly shootout, then some horribly-written dialogue delivered flatly, then maybe some gangsterism, then some CW channel-style teen drama, and all of it comes out of nowhere and serves no real purpose.

Is this supposed to be an action movie? It’s hard to tell what the filmmakers were thinking, or even if English was their first language. Maybe something got lost in translation. But they did manage to get some DTV-level names for the cast, which is more than you might expect. Former teen heartthrob Andrew Keegan isn’t on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine anymore...here he’s some sort of Russian mobster. And Vincent Spano is a SWAT team member with marital problems. Okay. Luke Goss is a cop who is somewhat on the edge, but doesn’t seem to be able to muster up enough enthusiasm to really be on said edge. Ming-Na Wen is his boss. There’s a bunch of overlong dialogue scenes that are pretty childish. And speaking of stuff that’s juvenile...

A main part of the threat that our heroes are fighting against in this movie is the potential onslaught of terrorists on scooters. SCOOTERS. This is taken gravely seriously in the world of April Rain. To prove this point, there’s an amazingly not-badass scooter chase that director Luciano Saber probably thought was amazingly badass. Rather than a fighting force of anti-terror warriors, it looks like a dry-run rehearsal for a Sugar Ray video. 

During one of the unnecessary soap opera scenes, which takes place in a kitchen, Luke Goss is on one side of the screen, his wife is on the other, and a bag of Kettle Chips are dead center between them. For a long time. The Kettle Chips steal the show. The dialogue WE were having during this scene was more drama-intensive: “Oh, this family buys Kettle Chips? Cool.” “I wonder what flavor?” “Well, that’s the red bag, so, what is that...” “I think it may be barbeque.” “I don’t like barbeque flavored chips. That’s like taking a bite of barbeque sauce. I find that gross” “Okay, whatever, weirdo.” This is sparklingly witty dialogue compared to the leaden dullery that is April Rain. And there’s some of our hated bathroom humor/dialogue that we hate and always rail against. The strikes against the movie are piling up fast.

If you - yes, YOU reading this right now - got your friends together, broke out the old Go Pro or some other video camera, and tried to make a movie, odds are it would be vastly better than April Rain. How unmitigated crud like this gets made and distributed will always mystify us. Looks like it’s heading for the sewer...

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Mercenaries (2014)

Mercenaries (2014)- * *1\2

Directed by: Christopher Ray

Starring: Zoe Bell, Brigitte Nielsen, Tim Abell, Vivica A. Fox, Kristanna Loken, Nicole Bilderback, and Cynthia Rothrock

When the President’s daughter travels to Kazakhstan and then gets kidnapped by the evil Ulrika (Nielsen) and her henchman Gregori (Abell), a government agent named Mona (Rothrock) does the only logical thing - she assembles a team of female prisoners (with pasts appropriate to this task, of course). Led by Cassandra Clay (Bell), the other team members include Raven (Fox), Kat (Loken), and Mei-Lin (Bilderback). Armed to the teeth and with nothing to lose, the ladies embark on the deadly mission, facing everything from sexism to RPG’s along the way. Will they come out victorious? Will they rescue the President’s daughter? What will happen to the baddies when they face the MERCENARIES?

In the grand tradition of Hell Squad (1986), Sweet Justice (1992), and Mankillers (1987), Mercenaries is the latest in the lineage of low-budget DTV “assemble a female team” movies. While the brief seems to have been “create a DTV, all-female Expendables”, the end result is more in line with the three films mentioned above. Not that that’s such a bad thing, of course. But Mercenaries is just a bit too silly for its own good. If they could have dialed down some of the more inane and/or sophomoric elements just a tad, and taken the whole project slightly more seriously, we might have more of a winner here.

Top marks go to our new hero Zoe Bell, arguably the best part of the movie. While the other Mercenaries were off experiencing the time-honored Prerequisite Torture, Bell goes off on her own, and we appreciated that. We hope to see more of her in front of the camera (for those who don’t know, she’s an experienced stuntwoman). Overall, though, it seems the filmmakers were going for a bit of a lark - a reasonably pleasant piece of entertainment you don’t have to think about too hard (or at all). But where’s the line between that and something that’s just really dumb? Mercenaries certainly defines that line.

Sure, it has some of those needless, modern-day editing tricks, and the production values are very cheap-looking (as befitting of The Asylum production company), and the green screen/CGI quotient is unhealthy, but on the brighter side it has some classic 80’s/90’s style clich├ęs - the wacky transportation driver, “It’s an election year”, and some un-PC dialogue (mostly centered around Mei-Lin). The comic-booky vibe is sledgehammered in with some interstitial cuts to comic book frames, an editing device pretty much universally frowned-upon when it came to that new cut of The Warriors (1979). Why Mercenaries chose to do it remains an open question.

There is plenty of groan-inducing dialogue as well, and top fan favorite Cynthia Rothrock has only one, all-too-brief fight scene. All the ladies, generally speaking, acquit themselves well, which is why we wished the overall product had more weight and heft to it, instead of being the aforementioned lark. It’s easy viewing, to be sure, and we like the tradition it falls in, so we’re willing to cut it some slack. But the silliness/dumbness factor reaches daffy proportions, so it’s kind of a wash.

In the end, Mercenaries is a well-meaning trifle, buoyed by Zoe Bell and her cohorts. We personally would have liked some more grit, however. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty