Category Archives: 2000s

Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)

*. Oh boy. I really don’t know why we needed six Leprechaun movies (and there would still be a couple more to come, what with the series reboot). And I really really don’t know why we needed two of them set in “Tha Hood” since I didn’t think they had enough material for one. And yet here we are.
*. Actually, and for what it’s worth, this entry was supposed to have the Leprechaun partying with college kids on spring break. But I think shooting another movie in the streets of L.A. was cheaper. So no Leprechaun Gone Wild. At least not yet.
*. I guess the first thing to say here is that this isn’t a sequel to Leprechaun in the Hood, even though that movie ended on a (unique for the series) open note with the Leprechaun still alive. Indeed not only alive but enjoying himself very much as a big-time rap impresario surrounded by fly girls. However, as I’ve had occasion to mention before, there is no consistent narrative being followed in these movies, to the point where it’s unclear if it’s the same leprechaun in each of the films. So we’re starting with a clean slate again here.
*. If the title is a joke it’s one of the few we get. There’s a noticeable swerve away from the lightness of the previous couple of movies. At times they almost seem to be trying to scare us. There are still some comic stretches, like with the Leprechaun’s first appearance at a house party where he gets stuck on a bong, but there are also nastier bits that play more like a traditional slasher horror film. There aren’t even any of the supernaturally grotesque kills that the wee fellow occasionally indulged. The Leprechaun just basically tears people apart with his bare hands. He’s a lot stronger in this movie, and less given to playing tricks.
*. There are carryover gags — like the way the Leprechaun keeps getting an eye torn out in these movies — as well as some new bits of leprechaun mythology. Apparently this leprechaun is an evil leftover of a tribe of earth spirits that were conjured up in medieval days, which is something we haven’t heard before. He is also indestructible except for clover. Religious rituals are of no use because, as the good witch tells them, “This creature predates Christianity.” I don’t think this is true, historically, and even if it was I don’t think it would make theological sense since the Christian God is supposed to be eternal.
*. Maybe I was just feeling burned out myself, but Warwick Davis seems tired of the part here. As well he might have been. Luckily for him this was to be the end of the line.
*. So . . . just as bad as Leprechaun in the Hood but in different ways. If you didn’t like all the jokes in the previous films then this one may appeal to you a bit more. But even though it’s different, it’s still nothing new.

Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)

*. I think at some point the producers of this series understood that they had nothing, so the only way to keep the franchise going was to throw the evil little bastard into various incongruous situations. So the Leprechaun (or a leprechaun, since they all seem to be different demons) went to Vegas, and then into space, and now, yes, he’s even gettin’ jiggy with it in the ‘hood.
*. You may find something in that premise funny. Or at least you might have found something funny in it twenty years ago. If so, it’s the only smile you’ll get out of this movie. Despite being a horror-comedy franchise that goes for broad laughs a lot of the time, I can’t think of any moment in this entire series that succeeded in being funny. On the one hand I’m glad that the Leprechaun is back rhyming in this movie, though not busting rhymes proper until the closing credits, where he sings his “Lep in the hood, come to do no good” with his zombie fly girls. But his rhymes are, alas, all lame. They’re not even groan-worthy.
*. Just to stick with his hip-hop moniker, it actually took me a moment to twig to “the Lep” being an abbreviation of leprechaun. I kept thinking of it as being short for leper. Not an association I’d have thought he wanted to make.
*. That said, the word that most came to mind watching this dreck is sloppy. It’s a sloppy movie. On a few occasions the actors appear to flub their lines, but I guess they didn’t want to do a retake. In other places there seem to be chunks of film missing that would have explained new directions in the plot. Who is it that kills the pawn-store owner Jackie Dee? One of the zombie girls? But they haven’t been introduced yet. I still don’t know.
*. Other points are just rehashed from earlier films. The scene where the Leprechaun rips off a guy’s finger to get his ring, and another scene where he launches through a doorway only to get trapped in a safe, are both taken from Leprechaun 2. As if such material was worth repeating.
*. Nothing about the plot makes sense. Again they’re making up new leprechaun folklore as they go along, this time adding a golden flute with some kind of magical properties. The heroes (a trio of aspiring hip-hop performers) read Leprechauns for Dummies and come up with a plan to destroy the Leprechaun by getting him to smoke a joint laced with clover. But all it really does is make him fall asleep. They go to a church to find sanctuary, but (as inevitably proves to be the case in today’s horror films) God is of no assistance.
*. Even the kills are mostly elided. There are only a couple of torsos bursting open for gore. Ice-T gets above-the-line billing as the rap promoter Mack Daddy. The kids wear droopy pants and ball caps and call each other “nigga” a lot. There’s a blind woman introduced for . . . comic relief? I wasn’t sure. Just a terrible movie. Perhaps not quite as bad as Leprechaun 4, but that’s the very best I can say for it. And that is low praise indeed.
*. Look, it’s clear these movies were never meant to be anything but cheap trash, but they did at least have some budget to work with here, and with Davis back as the Leprechaun they should have been able to come up with something better than this. But I really don’t know if, at this point, they were even trying.

Enter the Void (2009)

*. On the front of the DVD case there’s a warning: “This unrated film contains explicit sex, disturbing scenes, and drug use.” True enough, but why not a warning for epileptics? If those opening credits don’t send you into a seizure I don’t know what would. And don’t even think of trying to navigate the chapter selection menu. It’s even worse.
*. They might have also included a warning for anyone susceptible to motion sickness. Give a guy like Gaspar Noé a drone and see what you get?
*. Noé is a director who divides people pretty sharply. Enter the Void got a standing ovation at Cannes but did terrible box office. A critical darling, then? Not really. Critics were split too, though most saw something in it.
*. For the record, I did like I Stand Alone and Irréversible. I thought a lot less of Enter the Void. Why? In part due to the general sense I had that Noé was running on fumes for 161 minutes (the “long” version or full-length director’s cut).
*. There’s not a lot here. Basically it’s all a riff on the now rather old idea of the entire story being in effect a man’s dying moments and/or his immediate afterlife. Think Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” William Golding’s Pincher Martin, or the film Jacob’s Ladder (1990). Only here it’s not presented as a twist since the whole concept is introduced, pretty crudely, by the discussion of The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

*. The deceased is one Oscar, played by Nathaniel Brown. He’s basically a drug dealer in Tokyo who lives with his sister Linda (Pas de la Huerta). One night Oscar gets busted and (improbably) is shot by the police, expiring on the floor of a washroom stall. Flashbacks and flashforwards take up the rest of the movie as we learn more about Oscar and Linda’s history.
*. Perhaps the biggest problem here is that I didn’t find Oscar remotely interesting, much less relatable. Then as the film went on I curiously found the two siblings becoming even less sympathetic and more repulsive. And 161 minutes is a long time to be spent looking at this grimy, blurry world from Oscar’s point of view, or staring at the back of his head.
*. Yes, blurry. I thought the camerawork good and the editing excellent. I can understand why such a movie would take so long to assemble in post. Combining the invisible cuts with the gliding camera movement gives the proceedings a fluidity that Noé seems to have perfected. But I couldn’t see anything! What was up with that?
*. Because Oscar is taking a lot of drugs himself (he hasn’t heeded the warning from Scarface not to get high on his own supply) there are also a number of trippy sequences that critics thought recalled the Star Gate sequence in 2001. I guess. And I guess if you were on drugs while watching Enter the Void you might enjoy it more. But I wasn’t, so.
*. Despite the entire movie revolving around Oscar and Linda I didn’t feel I had any understanding of them as characters. Some sort of incestuous connection is hinted at, but it could just be that they’re weird. Or perhaps they’re just morons and there is no deeper level to explore. The fact, and I think it is a fact in evidence at least in this film, that neither Brown nor de la Huerta can act may also be contributing to this abiding blankness. Are they the void?

*. There are a few flourishes thrown in, seemingly to demonstrate Noé’s cred as an edgy filmmaker. Linda has an abortion and the camera dives into the dish containing the fetus. There’s a tour of a neon love hotel that’s like channel-surfing a porn network, only half as erotic. We get a sex scene at the end with an inside-the-vagina point-of-view money shot. Pointless really. My only thought as I was watching this was whether that was Noé’s dick thrusting in my face. I don’t know why I was wondering about that. I guess there was nothing else going on that seemed interesting enough to contemplate.
*. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie where I spent so much time in the final fifteen minutes thinking “Is that the end?” before finding out that, no, there was still more to come. Which is another way of saying that the end of the movie really drags. Apparently Noé thought it was a flashback to Oscar’s birth, in the form of a false memory. Why a false memory? I thought it was Linda giving birth to her and Alex’s child, but (again) the picture was so blurry I couldn’t tell. It could have been anyone.
*. I guess this sounds like I’m putting the boots to Enter the Void so I’ll stop. On the plus side, I did manage to sit through it to the end without being bored out of my mind. But the whole premise here is nothing new or interesting, the characters are dim and drippy losers, and the point of it all is trite and whimsical. Birth is a kind of death, and vice versa. You see how Oscar dies in a fetal position? You could just keep watching this movie on an endless loop. And if you do, I salute you. But it’s not my thing.

Transporter 3 (2008)

*. You might have been going into this one with high hopes. The Transporter was a decent action film, introducing Jason Statham as an action star and having a kind of ’90s charm to it. With Transporter 2 they upped their game with a flick that was good silly fun.
*. Alas, the third time around did not continue this trajectory. It’s crap.
*. It would be easy to blame Natalya Rudakova. Many reviewers did. Luc Besson apparently “discovered” her walking down a street in New York City. She was a hairdresser with no acting experience but he still wanted her to play Valentina.
*. She can’t act but I didn’t think she embarrasses herself given that it’s not really fair to throw a novice into such a hopeless situation. In the event, she gave what Besson wanted her to project, in service to his own fetishes. So she’s stuck falling in love with her saviour (Statham), reciting hopeless lines in fractured English, all while pimped out in her Ibiza party dress, with make-up running down her face.
*. I’ve never been to Ibiza, by the way. Do people just go there to dance and do drugs? Is that its only purpose?
*. So the character of Valentina is awful. As with Lai in the first film and the little boy in the second she’s only there to serve a plot function. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more of her and she starts to grate even before she takes to popping pills and getting drunk so she can act like a total ditz and get into even more trouble. In the big love/seduction scene I just felt embarrassed for everyone involved. As if Frank couldn’t just take the damn keys from her and be done with it.
*. I have to wonder at Tarconi telling Frank that his growing attachment to Valentina is not like the Frank he knows. Tarconi was in the first two films. This is exactly the Frank he knows.
*. Just don’t think about the plot here making sense. Just don’t think about it at all. I’m not even going to begin.
*. Another generic element added this time is the exploding bracelet Frank wears, which will detonate if he gets too far from his car. This goes back at least as far as Escape from New York, but is also like similar guns to the head in Speed and (another Statham vehicle) Crank. Again, it’s just something that’s here to make the wheels of the plot keep going around. Frank drops in on a mechanic friend of his to see if he can get the bracelet off. There’s a big fight in his garage. But he can’t get the bracelet off. Which turns out not to matter, because it was just meant to be a pit stop anyway, a place where Frank would stop driving long enough to fight some bad guys.
*. The action scenes struck me as a big letdown from Transporter 2. They’re just dance numbers. In the garage Frank even does a strip tease, which Valentina eyes appreciatively. I didn’t think there was anything fresh or interesting about any of it though. Or to the chase scenes. The Audi going on its side to squeeze between two trucks was peak stupid.
*. On the plus side, at least we finally see the bad guy getting a suitably spectacular (albeit still conventional, and bloodless) send-off. I would have been disappointed if he’d only been tossed from the train.
*. One of the worst things I can say about this one is that I didn’t even finish watching it the first time through, which is something I only realized when I started writing up these notes and had no memory of how it ended. I had to go back and watch the final five minutes, for what that was worth. Not much.
*. Director Olivier Megaton (no, that’s not his real last name, it’s Fontana) would go on to do Taken 2 and 3, which was no big stretch (though I think they were better movies). Statham, however, would be getting off the bus here, and for good reason (it didn’t help that he felt he was being lowballed in the new contract he was offered). Why do another movie after this train wreck? Tomorrow to fresh franchises and pastures new.

Transporter 2 (2005)

*. The opening shot of Frank Martin (Jason Statham) sitting in his car in a parking garage establishes continuity. As do the names of Louis Leterrier and Corey Yuen, who again collaborated on the direction. Script co-written by Luc Besson, which tells you where the Nikita clone Lola comes from (as if you couldn’t have figured it out). But note one important difference. This movie is brought to you by the good people at Audi, not BMW.
*. What follows is more generic stuff in the same vein, but slicker, brighter, and more fun than the first movie. The hot chick in distress is replaced by the cute kid in distress. Exactly how the evil plot was supposed to work totally escaped me. Luckily, we’re not asked to spend any time thinking about it.
*. Instead we’re meant to look at stunts so silly they border on the surreal. A car jumping from the roof of one parking garage into another across the street. Or a fight with a fire hose that lets Yuen show off his Hong Kong-action chops at their acrobatic and whimsical finest. You can also enjoy looking at Amber Valletta (a model) getting all concerned about her kid, and Kate Nauta (another model) changing into a variety of different lingerie sets to cause some damage. Because she only fights in lingerie.

*. I mentioned being disappointed with the way Matt Schulze was disposed of at the end of the first movie simply by having him thrown out of the cab of a truck. A bloodier end was cut from the American release version. That happens again here, as Lola’s death has the blood cut out of it in order to score a PG-13 rating. This made it hard for me to understand that she was actually dead. Meanwhile, Alessandro Gassman’s Chellini has to be kept alive so that his blood can somehow be used to cure the plague he was looking to unleash on behalf of Colombian drug cartels so that they could . . . but I already told you I couldn’t figure this part out.
*. Chalk up one surprise. I was sure Matthew Modine’s character was in on the plot because (1) he seems guilty as hell, and (2) he has star billing after Statham despite the fact that he doesn’t have much of a role in the film. But no, he’s actually one of the good guys, and it looks like this trial has even brought his family together. Too bad. They seem like the kind of self-important plutocrats that made me hope global warming would speed up and wreck their trashy Miami mansion, just so I could see it washed away.
*. Well, like I say, it’s silly. But silly in a good way. Or in the way blockbuster genre action films were trending at the time. It plays well alongside the Mission: Impossible, Fast & Furious, and John Wick franchises. We’re just whipped along from one big rock ’em, sock ’em scene to the next. And these are well handled. I like the little flourishes like the camera spinning around the gear shift in the main car-chase scene. This happens so fast I didn’t even notice it the first time.
*. Apparently this was Statham’s own favourite film in the series. I am in complete agreement. When I think back on the action classics of the ’80s though I don’t think any of these movies compare. At least I can’t imagine any of them having the same staying power as Die Hard or even Commando. The stunts are more spectacular and the speed at which it all comes at you has been pushed into the red, but at the same time they’re even more brainless and superficial. Was this what the twenty-first century demanded, or just what it was going to get anyway?

The Transporter (2002)

*. The Transporter had two directors, Corey Yuen (a Hong Kong action director) and, credited as artistic director, Louis Leterrier. Behind these names, however, it’s also easy to see the hand of writer-producer Luc Besson.
*. I’m not sure how comfortable any of these people were working in English at the time, which may help explain why the script is so laugh-out-loud bad. Or maybe it’s because the whole project was inspired by a series of advertisements (or “branded content”) produced by BMW called The Hire starring Clive Owen in the title role. Does this movie look like a car commercial? Well . . .
*. It’s hard to overstate just how mailed-in the script feels. You know Frank (Statham) and Lai (Qi Shu) are going to hop into bed, so when she forces the issue you get one of those laugh-out-loud moments I mentioned. Their coupling is simply what such a story as this demands. You knew it was coming from the moment they locked eyes. Add to that a plot that’s flimsy even by the standards of an action film, or car commercial. The shipping container isn’t even a decent MacGuffin. And what’s the story about why Lai needs to be transported around anyway? What does her dad want to do with her anyway?
*. Generic tripe like this calls for some star power to bail it out, and here the producers got lucky by glomming on to Jason Statham, who had just appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (his film debut) and Snatch. In The Transporter he launched as an official action star. Along with Dwayne Johnson and . . . Vin Diesel? other names don’t suggest themselves . . . he was one of the heirs of the ’80s icons he would later show up alongside in The Expendables franchise.
*. I like Statham, and he capably carries this movie. It’s not very special in any other way. The opening car chase struck me as very dull. Most of the rest of the action stuff was edited all to hell so I couldn’t even judge whether the stunt work was any good. There wasn’t anything original about any of it, with the possible exception of the oil fight in the garage, which I’ll admit was neat. Otherwise it’s quite predictable, and disappointing. Matt Schulze does well enough as the heavy to deserve a better death than simply to be thrown out of the cab of a truck. In the original French version he was at least crushed by the truck’s wheels, a better (though still not very interesting) exit that was oddly cut from the American release.
*. So, not a keeper. But it would go on to spawn a pair of sequels and a reboot (The Transporter: Refueled), the latter coming as Statham himself, no longer young, was replaced by a new generation of action star. In the meantime, Transporter 2 and 3 would look to improve on the original. All they needed was some more comfort with the star, some slicker action, and a slightly (if ever so slightly) less stupid script. Not a problem. Or at least so one would have thought.

The Scorpion King (2002)

*. The Scorpion King is usually described as a prequel to The Mummy and The Mummy Returns but I don’t see it fitting in the same universe. Apparently the character of Mathayus, a laughable CGI monster at the end of The Mummy Returns, is the same Mathayus who is the hero of this movie, and played by the same actor, but I had trouble making the connection (though the CGI in this film is almost as bad).
*. What I think is of more significance is the genre difference. This really isn’t a Mummy movie but a throwback to the swords-and-sorcery flicks of the 1980s. Not strictly a remake of Conan the Destroyer but very much pressed in the same mold.
*. Dwayne Johnson (still being billed as The Rock) in his first leading role. But is it the movie that launched his career? He would go on to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but looking over his extensive filmography it’s hard to tell exactly when this happened. The Scorpion King did well enough at the box office, but nothing that demanded bringing Johnson back for any of the sequels (of which there have been four at the time of this writing). After this there were a string of action films that didn’t amount to much. And yet, despite not being in any movies that strike me as being memorable, in ten years he had fully inherited the mantle of the action heroes of the previous generation (Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, etc.).
*. I’m not knocking Johnson though. A former pro wrestler, he moves better than Schwarzenegger or Stallone, and has a lot more charm. He’s also the only thing this movie has going for it.
*. The plot could not have been simpler or more formulaic. Johnson plays Mathayus, an Akkadian (don’t try and make sense of the history). He’s hired by one of the last free tribes to kill the Sorceress (she doesn’t have a name, and not much in the way of clothes) who is assumed to be the power behind the throne of Memnon, an evil dude whose hordes are raping and pillaging and burning villages. Mathayus picks up a nerdy sidekick, the Sorceress (Kelly Hu) falls in love with him, and together with a Big Black Man (Michael Clarke Duncan), a scientist who has invented explosives, and a bunch of Amazons, he kills Memnon and saves the world. If you’ve seen Conan the Destroyer you should recognize all of these characters.
*. No surprises whatsoever, and the unimpressive villains make it even weaker than it sounds. The lieutenants Takmet and Thorak are disposed of almost as afterthoughts, while Steven Brand as Memnon, despite being given flaming swords to play with at the end, just doesn’t have the requisite weight to go toe-to-toe with the People’s Champ.
*. I didn’t dislike The Scorpion King, but at the same time there’s nothing about it that stands out as being all that good either. It’s not as much fun as the first two Brendan Fraser Mummy movies, and only improves on the Conan movies by being a bit sprightlier. Still, that lightness is also part of the problem. As noted, there is virtually no story here at all, and indeed the original cut was apparently only 70 minutes long, requiring more scenes to be shot.
*. They literally had nothing here but the Rock kicking ass, flexing, and cracking jokes. And I guess he showed that he could carry a film like this on his own. Conan the Barbarian was Schwarzenegger’s calling card, and that was a movie that had a lot more going for it than The Scorpion King. So you have to give Johnson some credit here. Not a lot, but some. It’s a star turn.

Rachel Getting Married (2008)

*. Domestic drama really isn’t my thing. Nor are weddings, at least of the kind Rachel is having in this movie. I think I would have tried to find any excuse to not attend if I’d been invited. But I wanted to see Rachel Getting Married because I was tired of seeing Anne Hathaway, an actor I enjoy, in movies where she was a square peg being pounded into a round hole. I mean, she was very good as the Catwoman, as a secret agent in Get Smart, and as an astronaut in Interstellar, but . . . really? And I can’t blame her for mailing it in on Serenity.
*. Jonathan Demme had his eye on Hathaway as well, and when Sidney Lumet sent him the script, written by his daughter Jenny, he had her pegged for the lead of Kym. I think she’s good, but I still don’t think it’s a role she can get much out of. Lumet’s script seems very humdrum to me, sort of like an Ordinary People for the 2000s. Kym is in rehab due to a drug problem that resulted in her killing her younger brother by accident some years earlier. Meanwhile, her more grounded sister Rachel (Rosemary DeWitt), is, as the title implies, getting married. Alas, Kym and her issues have the potential to ruin Rachel’s big day.
*. There’s really not a lot more to the story than that. Basically you just cringe along with the rest of the family as Kym’s train wreck threatens to blow everything up completely. Nothing is resolved but we get a send-off that leaves us feeling optimistic for the future. Love and family will surely see everyone through.
*. What either makes or breaks the movie for you will be the telling. It’s basically shot as a kind of home movie of the wedding, with a handheld (or shoulder-mounted) camera wandering about the nuptial carnival. There’s eating, dancing, music (some of it supplied by Robyn Hitchcock). And of course there are behind-the-scenes dramatic moments that jerk us back to the Buchman family’s Really Big Tragedy.
*. I credit the cast, and especially Hathaway and DeWitt, for convincingly portraying ordinary (albeit very affluent) people who I wouldn’t care to spend a lot of time with at a wedding or anywhere else. The proceedings do have an authenticity and naturalism. The camera even takes us into the bathroom so we can watch Kym sitting on the toilet, and shaving her armpits. But in the end nothing much seemed at stake, because I guess nothing was. Nor was a great deal revealed. I like the character of Kym, one of those truly unfortunate types who seem to want to do the right thing but keep messing up, but there’s just not a lot going on here aside from the fact that it turns out to be a very nice wedding despite the threat of bad weather.

Inland Empire (2006)

*. I think David Lynch is a genius, and that’s not a word I throw around lightly. I was a fan right from the night I saw Eraserhead at a rep cinema. Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr. are landmark works of art. The first season of Twin Peaks is one of the best things there’s ever been on television.
*. As I would with any genius, I give Lynch latitude to make mistakes without excusing them or finding in them portals of discovery. No, as I said in my notes on Lost Highway, there is a good Lynch and a bad Lynch. And the bad Lynch can be very bad. I am not among those who now declare Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to be a misunderstood classic. It’s terrible.
*. You’ll have guessed where I’m going. Inland Empire is bad Lynch. Very bad Lynch. It was a movie he wrote and produced on his own, even shooting it himself on a hand-held digital camera. It developed episodically and some of it was made up as he went along, though I doubt it would have made any more sense if it had been plotted out. As far as I can tell it’s just the usual playing around with enjambed timelines and dark alternative dimensions with resident demons. Make of that what you will, since Lynch isn’t interested in explaining any of it.
*. I won’t be so foolish as to try to offer my own explanation, beyond observing that it seems to be about an actress who is having a breakdown on set. To say anything more would be to give some credit to the idea that there is a point to it, which I don’t believe there is. I also don’t want to offer an explanation because I really don’t care. I’ve read various interpretations of what is going on or what the movie is “about,” many of them wildly at odds, but none of them mean anything to me because of this fundamental lack of any personal investment in the story. Should I care if Nancy/Sue is just dreaming all this? That perhaps she’s dead? Or never existed at all?
*. I don’t find anything in Inland Empire interesting because confusion is not interesting. So when it drags on for three hours it gets very dull. It’s also ugly, underlit, and unimaginative, lazily bouncing us back again and again to Laura Dern’s shocked or uncomprehending face. Since Dern herself apparently didn’t know what was going on this wasn’t acting. I think we are meant to relate to her mystification. But who knows?
*. I’ll just stop here. I didn’t understand it. Even after having given up on understanding it, I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I had a very hard time sitting through it. Having done so I can only say that the experience wasn’t worth it.

Thr3e (2006)

*. I know what you’re thinking. With a title like that, it’s a rip-off of Se7en, right down to the digit replacing a letter in the title and the killer punishing his victims for their sins.
*. Well, it is. But the thing is, it’s an even bigger rip-off of Saw. There’s a serial killer named the Riddle Killer (or “R.K.” to the police) who leaves these taped messages that even sound like they’re being done in Jigsaw’s voice.
*. A final film to mention as an influence is Adaptation (2002). Yes, Adaptation. It’s been remarked that the plot here is quite similar to that of the garbage serial-killer screenplay written by dim brother Donald in that movie, which is titled The Three. And The Three is introduced to us as a joke: a script so dumb and conventional that we’re meant to laugh at. Could this have been an accident?
*. I could keep going. Thr3e is one of the most unabashedly unoriginal movies ever made. It’s a rip-off of everything it could get its hands on. Technically it’s an adaptation of a novel of the same title by Ted Dekker that had come out a few years previously, but it’s really a rehash of every psycho-thriller cliché ever put on film.
*. It was also, if you can believe it, the first theatrical release for Fox Faith, which was a division of 20th Century Fox set up to present morally-driven, “Christian friendly,” and Christian-themed movies. And by “Christian” they meant Evangelicals. Fox Faith’s motto was “Films you can believe in.”
*. In practical terms, what this means is no real violence. The psycho killer is a mad bomber, so you just see very bad CGI explosions with fake flames that don’t look like they’d hurt anyone. It also means there’s no bad language. The only bombs are those CGI bombs, not F-bombs. When people get angry they call other people bad names like “pukes,” “worms,” or “liar!”
*. Aside from that, I don’t see where this is a Christian film at all, aside from the presence of the not-very-bright philosophy professor Kevin has at the seminary. He doesn’t know what century Kant lived in? And he’s impressed that Kevin does?
*. If you’re amazed to find out that a movie whose most immediate forebears are Se7en and Saw was the debut of a Christian film company, you should be. It’s an odd fit and doesn’t work at all. It does, however, add to the general sense of goofiness.
*. Yes, this is a very bad movie. Websites that study these things found it to be one of the most critically panned films of the decade. It is, however, bad in a fun sort of way. Every five minutes you have to grin at another wild improbability, or a character doing or saying something totally unexpected. And the twist ending, while on the one hand just another cliché, takes the cliché to such an improbable extreme that you have to laugh out loud. It’s still probably not worth bothering with, but if you have a sweet tooth for awfulness it’s something you might enjoy.