Artisan // 2001 // 103 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Kevin Lee (Retired) // April 26th, 2002
Two cops. Opposite sides of the law. The first one to die...loses.
Well, duh! If you're dead you can hardly gloat over a victory.
I contend that in most instances you can tell if a movie is good or not by its cover. I know people say not to do that with books, but with DVDs it's really something of a science. I've seen enough bad movies in my lifetime to recognize the trends.
Take the cover of Double Bang (pictured above) for instance.
We have a really horrible tagline that actually does nothing to capture the essence of the movie. (Yes, there are two cops, and yes, they're on the opposite side of the law, but the first one to die bit is between a cop and a gangster. See? It's misleading.) That's strike one.
Strike Two comes in the form of the artwork. We have a half-scowling,half-smirking William Baldwin (Virus) trying to look tough with a gun and a Tupac Shakur wannabe standing behind him and looking menacing. (Frankly, I have to admit that I have no idea who that actor is. He's not listed in the credits despite the fact he has a somewhat important role in the film.)
Strike Three is the name "William Baldwin" displayed prominently over a bad title.
Strike Four (and, yes, I'm aware that you only get three strikes, but this one is especially bad so bear with me, okay?) is the "From the Writer/Director of One Good Cop" tagline. I've seen One Good Cop, and I can tell you that this is no way to market a movie.
No matter what I think of the box, however, I can't help the fact that Artisan has released the made-for-TV thriller Double Bang on DVD and it's my sworn duty to review it. I will now go stand in traffic.
Billy Benson (Baldwin, AKA Baldwin #23) is an honest cop who is brought to the scene of a terrible crime. Billy's former partner Vinnie (Adam Baldwin, AKA Baldwin #36, The Patriot) has been mortally wounded and won't let anyone near him. It turns out that Internal Affairs has been investigating Vinnie because he's on the take. They may have been tipped off by the mansion, yacht, Rolls Royce, and the winter lodge in Zurich. Before Vinnie dies, he gives up the name "Fish." Or maybe he just wanted to order some sushi. We'll never know on account of Vinnie being dead.
After this, we see an extraordinarily long flashback in slow motion that shows us that Billy and Vinnie were best friends. I guess we just couldn't take anyone at their word that they were best friends. After that, we get another extraordinarily long flashback in which we see Billy and Vinnie on the vice squad shaking down goons until they get to a guy named Fish (a cackling, scene-chewing Jon Seda), who manages to sway Vinnie with the offer of a lot of cash. Billy can't take the pressure of being a dirty cop, and bails out to work in homicide.
For some reason, Billy decides to exact revenge on Fish by trying to kill him, so he skirts all of the rules in his bloodlust. In the process, he meets up with a potential witness in a connected homicide, Dr. Winterman (Elizabeth Mitchell Nurse Betty). It turns out Dr. Winterman was having an affair with one of her patients, a parolee drug addict who doubled as a gigolo. (We get to see how they hooked up in yet another outrageously long flashback.)
If you think this all sounds bad, this is just the first third of the movie. It goes way down hill from there.
It's not so much that Double Bang is a really bad movie as it is a really terrible movie. The plot may be rich and complex, but it gets thrown to the ground, shattered, and then gets stomped into dust due to the inept directing and poor dialogue. Writer/director Heywood Gould, who most notably wrote Cocktail, which explains a lot of things, has taken just about every bit of witty, sarcastic dialogue that he's heard in just about every other cop movie and recycled those bits for Double Bang. Baldwin's portrayal of Billy Benson is nothing but an exercise in sneering and unfunny sarcasm, but I can't say I expected much more. Can anyone think of an overall worse family of actors than the Baldwins? I thought not.
The only actor that really manages to distinguish himself in Double Bang is Jon Seda, but he's met with a set of pathetically improbable situations. After being badly beaten and roughed up by the Baldwinses (to the point where he'll be "pissing blood for a week") he gets up and offers them a $50,000 payoff. Huh?
There's more mind numbing situations throughout Double Bang, such as Benson's penchant to romance Dr. Winterman one night and torment her the next day with crime photos of her deceased lover. This may have been when my eyes started to bleed.
For a cop movie there isn't even really enough sex and violence to keep me the least bit interested for more than ten minutes. Where's the running gun battles? The car chases? The 'splosions? The defenestrations? (Okay, there was one of those.) Words simply fail to express how annoyed I was by this.
The video transfer is exactly what you would expect from a low budget straight-to-video thriller in that it's really not very good. Before looking this movie up on the Internet Movie Database, I would have guessed that Double Bang had been made at least ten years ago, judging by the picture quality. It turns Double Bang was released in 2001. Imagine my surprise! The audio is presented in a subpar 5.1 mix that fails to take much advantage of an expanded sound field. Since I thought this movie was made ten years ago, I wasn't that disappointed until only a few minutes ago. If you're really in to extras and special features, I'd suggest looking elsewhere since Artisan has only managed to provide the trailer, though they're kind enough to point out that the special features aren't rated by the MPAA. Thanks!
There is really absolutely nothing good to say about Double Bang. If you want to watch a good police or crime thriller, might I suggest something like The Corruptor or Fargo. Heck, even the lamentable films K-9 and Turner and Hooch were better than this. [Editor's Note: That's because they both featured dogs as lead characters. A headlining dog always raises a film's rating at least half a star.]
Double Bang would be great for a night of entertainment if not for the fact that it's truly an awful, terrible little film. I'm sure that I'll forget about the finer details of this forgettable plot within a few days and, if I don't, I can always beat myself senseless with a ball peen hammer.
Double Bang is guilty of corruption of common sense and decent writing. I'm throwing the book at this one.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R