Overview: A band of multi-national hitmen prove that being bad at your job knows no ethnicity. Also, there's something about an angel.
Directed By: John Specht, 2003.
The Case For: It's in English; having the DVD in the house has not yet killed my dog.
The Case Against: Elite assassins, terrorist conspiracies, illicit drug deals, hardcore pornography, vengeful spirits from beyond the grave - this movie ruins them all.
A while back we examined a wretched little movie called Electric Zombies, in which writer/director John Specht tried to convince us that cell phones are scary. Shortly after the review appeared on the site, one of the actors, the esteemed Jonas Moses, contacted me and explained with grace, humor, and eloquence that the final cut of the film was nothing like Specht's original vision, and that the editor had irreparably damaged their work. I'm not sure if I believe Mr. Moses - after all, he did appear in a movie called Electric Zombies - but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. JoMo, as I like to call him in social settings, also recommended a few other films for my perusal. I couldn't help but notice that this list did not include Absolution, which came out shortly before Electric Zombies and marks the first collaboration between Jonas Moses and John Specht (or at least the first that IMDB can be bothered to acknowledge). Naturally, I had to investigate.
Woe! Woe unto my investigation! Little did I know that JoMo's omission of Absolution from his list of recommendations was not an error, but a warning. Likewise, little did he know that subtlety is totally lost on me, as it is on all Something Awful writers, and the only way to get the message across would have been to say, "THIS IS A WARNING. DO NOT WATCH ABSOLUTION. IT IS TOTAL ASS." So I now warn you, my loyal and stalwart readers:
THIS IS A WARNING. DO NOT WATCH ABSOLUTION. IT IS TOTAL ASS.
Now that you have been properly warned, we can proceed. The film opens with three thugs-for-hire - Nolan (Jonas Moses), Dmitri, and Trent - interrogating a young man who seems to have angered the wrong people. Nolan and his partners need to get some information out of this unlucky individual. In the middle of the violent interrogation, Nolan gets a phone call, so he leaves the young man in the hands of Dmitri and Trent. Trent, seizing upon the opportunity to impress his boss, promptly blows the young man's brains out with a shotgun, making it substantially more difficult to get information from him.
Although nothing that takes place in this opening scene has any relevance as far as the plot is concerned (a statement based on the erroneous assumption that there is a plot), it does establish some things that will come up again and again throughout the movie's agonizing 99 minute runtime:
- Trent is an idiot.
- All three of these guys are really, really terrible at their jobs. They keep bringing Trent along, for one thing. For another, when their little interrogation takes a quick trip to Murder Town, the three men don't go back to their client with their heads hung low, begging forgiveness and refusing payment; nor do they embark on a quest to find the necessary information by alternate means. No, they botched the job, so they decide that they might as well go kill their client. One more time: they screwed up their mission, so they decide to kill their client. At least that explains how they keep getting work. If you kill the person who hired you every time Trent fucks up a job, it's hard to get a negative performance review.
- Jonas Moses can't maintain an accent. One minute he's Russian, the next minute he's from Nebraska.
- John Sprecht loves cell phones. Seriously. A conservative estimate would say that 75% of this movie features characters talking on cell phones. This obsession would later grow take on a paranoid tinge, leading to the production of Electric Zombies.
- When characters actually put down their phones and interact with one another, it will be awful. When you think about the best parts of Pulp Fiction, your mind probably goes to the disarmingly quirky exchanges between Jules and Vincent, two mob enforcers. Played by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta before we all realized he's actually crazy, and with dialogue written by the master of badass small talk, Quentin Tarantino, these guys just ooze cool, even as they debate the merits of bacon or talk about the permutations of fast food overseas. Unfortunately, Nolan, Dmitri, and Trent are not Jules and Vincent, and John Specht is not Quentin Tarantino. Listening to these guys bicker like a bunch of old women is not disarmingly quirky, nor is it badass. It is, in fact, infuriating to listen to them prattle, constantly talking over one another and struggling to come up with more to say, continually becoming whinier and whinier as the camera just keeps rolling. And it's not just limited to Nolan, Dmitri, and Trent, either. All the characters in the movie bicker like this. In fact, one could call it&
The John Specht Method of Writing Dialogue
Character One: "My character's motivation is thiiiiiiiis."
Character Two: "I'll take care of it."
Character One: "This is my character's motivaaaaaaaaaation."
Character Two: "I'm taking care of it."
Character One: "The director only gave me three seconds' worth of instruuuuuuuuuuctions, and the script is just a piece of masking taaaaaaaaape with the word "script" written on iiiiiit."
Character Two: "What?"
Character One: "Uh, I said, 'why are you so stuuuuuupid?'"
Repeat for an hour and a half, then weep.