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The unadulterated anger directed towards German filmmaker Uwe Boll is, for the most part, warranted. Simply put: The man doesn’t make good movies, and people tend to hate him for it. However, despite Boll’s dedication to impossibly bad taste and his penchant for taking popular videogames and completely reworking their core storylines to suit his ambitions, I am hopelessly drawn to the man’s body of work. No matter how wretched or downright pathetic his latest endeavor may be, I always seem to come back for more whenever the Gods of Celluloid graciously allow him to create another feature-length abomination. I like to call it cinematic masochism. Old-fashioned stupidity works, too.
Boll’s latest direct-to-video release, the 2008 buddy action flick “Far Cry,” is, perhaps, his most accessible film to-date, though probably not for the reasons the universally-loathed filmmaker had originally intended. As a life-long fan of silly Italian shoot-em-ups and anything released by Media Home Entertainment during the 80’s, I can genuinely appreciate the film’s inherent goofiness without succumbing to embarrassing fits of nerd-infused rage. Well, not entirely, anyway. I am a bit of a geek, and I do have my limitations.
From what I’ve read, the plot for Crytek’s popular first-person shooter “Far Cry” and that found lurking at the bottom of Uwe’s cinematic interpretation are, in fact, a little different. Although Jack Carver (Til Schweiger), his sidekick Val (Emmanuelle Vaugier), and the villainous Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier) are pretty much the same as their 3D counterparts, the storyline has been considerably altered and rearranged. Gone are the nuclear weapons and the climatic showdown inside a live volcano, replaced instead with genetically altered soldiers and a finale that appears to have been filmed behind a nearby Home Depot.
For those who haven’t played the game, allow me to put a finer point on the plot: Jack Carver is an ex-military type who spends his retirement giving boat tours to whiny, whale-obsessed Americans. However, when beautiful investigative journalist Valerie Cardinal (Vaugier) hires our scruffy hero to ferry her to a mysterious island frequented by secretive military personnel, Jack’s restful world is suddenly turned upside down. In one fell swoop, Val is kidnapped, Jack’s boat is destroyed, and everyone with an automatic weapon wants him dead. In order to rescue the girl and escape with his hide intact, Jack will have to resort to skills he hasn’t utilized in years.
Although my credibility will surely take a punch to the groin for admitting as much, I have to say that “Far Cry,” while not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, is a pretty enjoyable slice of cheap, throwaway cinema. The key ingredient is Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer, and Masaji Takei’s script, a two-napkin masterpiece that feels as though it were conceived by a homeschooled 13 year-old who just discovered his father’s secret stash of Chuck Norris and Don “The Dragon” Wilson movies. It’s “Romancing the Stone” by way of PM Entertainment, complete with a short, overweight guy dishing out comic relief. Bad comic relief, at that.
Personal taste aside, I can clearly understand how “Far Cry” may rub people the wrong way. The acting is downright pathetic, the humor is impossibly lame, and Uwe Boll’s direction is as sharp as someone who just started watching movies yesterday. Fans of the video game will probably be the most offended, as it retains little of what made the shooter so much fun in the first place. Of course, there’s plenty of non-stop action to be had, though it’s only impressive if you stopped watching movies before the Wachoskis created “The Matrix.”
If you’re already a card-carrying member of the I Hate Uwe Boll club, “Far Cry” probably isn’t going to change your mind on the subject. At all. Those of us who enjoy such empty-headed productions, on the other hand, may enjoy the director’s old-school approach to action filmmaking. Keeping the podunk performances from grating your fragile nerves is crucial, especially once Chris Coppola’s character is introduced about halfway through the picture. Compared to Boll’s previous efforts, it’s a little shinier than most, but that really isn’t saying much. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, a fan of hokey cinema, or a rabid follower of the good doctor’s work, you may want to skip this one altogether. However, trying to decipher why, exactly, Michael Paré shows up for one brief scene could be considered great fun in certain circles.
Uwe Boll (director) / Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer, Masaji Takei (screenplay)
CAST: Til Schweiger … Jack Carver
Emmanuelle Vaugier … Valerie Cardinal
Natalia Avelon … Katja Chernov
Udo Kier … Dr. Lucas Krieger
Michael Paré … Paul Summers
Craig Fairbrass … Parker