(US - 2012)
Everything here is the definition of by-the-numbers and the only surprise is that Val Kilmer is nowhere in sight. The script by L. Philippe Casseus is riddled with cumbersome exposition, laughable contrivances and no character consistency at all (Jonas: "Sarcone's been like a father to me!" Really? Because you just met him; and Jonas doesn't recall that he witnessed his father's murder until the plot requires him to), and the amateur-night direction by Jessy Terrero (reuniting with Fiddy after their GUN triumph) is filled with continuity errors and he makes no effort at all to rein in an overacting Whitaker, turning in another in an alarming string of excruciatingly awful performances after THE EXPERIMENT and CATCH .44. Whitaker does little more here than yell, twitch, snort blow, strut, and wave a gun around while barking absurd lines like "I can make you vanish! POOF!" What's going on with him? THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND was only six years ago, folks. And of course, being that Fiddy is one of 29 (!) credited producers, he gives himself a gratutious sex scene with hot bartender Beau Garrett (who co-starred with Whitaker on the awful CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR). Vinnie Jones shows up long enough to do his "Fookin' 'ell, mate!" schtick as a Sarcone-Baez go-between who seems to be making a killing on old-ass 1990s computer monitors. Dana Delany appears briefly as the wife of a dead D.A. and is rewarded with 19th billing and her name misspelled "Delaney" in the closing credits. But the real story with FREELANCERS--other than the shocking decline in Forest Whitaker's acting ability--is a totally disinterested De Niro in the "Richard Harris-in-STRIKE COMMANDO 2" role of his career. De Niro sleepwalks through this and looks mildly irritable throughout, forced to utter lines like "This is about money, fear, and respect!" Eternal respect, Mr. De Niro, but I fear this one is just about the money. (R, 96 mins)
ONE IN THE CHAMBER
(US - 2012)
(US - 2012)
It all has something to do with multiple personalities and brainwashing, and of course, you can never trust any big name actor who doesn't appear to have a lot to do with the plot, especially when he has the hero join up with people we know are killers and tell him "Your life's in their hands!" as the camera zooms in on his untrustworthy, grinning face. Slater and Sutherland are competent pros who are just on working Eastern European vacations here, but the film's biggest problem is Portnoy, who's not only a terrible actress, but--and there's no way to say this without sounding like a total dick--she has a bit of a crooked face and just looks...odd. Which would be fine if she weren't playing a role that requires the hero to not know that she's wearing disguises. It's never believable for a second that a former FBI agent (or anyone with functioning eyesight) can't tell that blonde Vicky and red-wigged Ursula are the same person, especially when they both have a rather large mole above their right eye.
And who the hell watches an Isaac Florentine joint for scenes with Slater sensitively strumming an acoustic guitar as Portnoy improvs a Bulgarian folk song? Florentine is the man when it comes to crazy DTV action, but he's seriously out of his element here and it feels like an Elika Portnoy vanity project that he simply ended up directing. Also featuring Timothy Spall for some reason, ASSASSIN'S BULLET is a major disappointment from Florentine, and easily the director's worst film. (R, 91 mins)