Thursday, March 20, 2008

Never Back Down

I've got a great idea. Let's take Fight Club, and remove all the plot. What? You mean they already did? And it's called Never Back Down? Guess I'm too late. This movie is nothing but back alley brawls split up by terrible acting.

John Faris plays Jack Tyler, a high-school student with some pretty severe anger problems. He's starting at a new school that seems completely oblivious to the massive amounts of fights that occur on a daily basis. Apparently this is standard for Orlando. After getting beaten up at a party by the king of the school (Cam Gigandet), he vows revenge. This leads him to the door of a martial arts master (Djimon Hounsou), who tries to channel his anger into something more productive. Everything is still just about getting even, though. Through all of this, Tyler has to deal with disappointment from his mom, and setting an example for his brother.

I'm okay with really bad action movies- if that's all they are. Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Damme is actually one of my favorite 80's movies. The problem with Never Back Down is that it attempts to fulfill this theme of familial obligation and responsibility. Unfortunately the only message that actually comes across is that not fighting makes you weak. It even compares Tyler to Achilles, saying that he's fighting now so he won't have to again. This was not only implied, it was told outright.

It seems like all movies even remotely of this genre are starting to blend together. There were lines that seemed almost identical to Step Up 2- something to the effect of "You won't know where the tournament is until they text you at the last minute." The whole idea of using YouTube as a means of communications, and pretty much the entire last fight scene in the parking lot were completely unoriginal.

To the credit of the movie, however, the fight scenes were shot very well. The acrobatics of the fighters were matched perfectly by the camera. The acting is also pretty bad, but I can't fault this too much. I mean look at the Karate Kid, and that movie is beloved. I was kind of surprised to see Hounsou in this after his Oscar nomination for Blood Diamond. Despite him being pretty good, none of the others were- including Amber Heard playing the bad-guy's girlfriend who falls for the good-guy. Unfortunately, not even the impressive camera work is enough to make this a good, or even mediocre movie.


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