Sony // 2006 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 24th, 2006
No one is above the law.
Lots of bored stars. A former boy band member. A sucky title. A shelved theatrical release. Edison Force has a lot going against it out of the gate. Does the finished product merit your attention?
The city of Edison is ruled by a corrupt task force called F.R.A.T., a lethal strike team working out of the Edison police department that takes down druglords and gangsters, steals their money, and spreads it around to the heavy-hitting politicians and businessmen. Raf Deed (LL Cool J, Deep Blue Sea) is the new guy on the squad and is immediately afflicted with a bad case of conscience.
Meanwhile, an enterprising journalist named Pollack (Justin Timberlake) working for a weekly shopper newspaper, sniffs out the corruption and launches a full-scale PR war on the F.R.A.T. Unfortunately, his wise editor Ashford (Morgan Freeman) isn't buying into his wild accusations-sans-research and cans him. But Pollack is determined, and with the help of a reluctant Ashford and a soft-spoken investigator (Kevin Spacey) he begins to gather ammunition for the story that will bring down F.R.A.T.
But they won't go quietly, and Pollack soon finds himself in real danger from the cops, as they assault and threaten him, put his girlfriend into a coma, and eventually mobilize for an all-out assault, leaving Deed to decide where his allegiances lie.
Edison Force endured a torturous limbo existence following its completion. Jettisoned from theatrical release it simmered until this DVD-only distribution, and now here it is, stuffed silly with big-name actors and promises of action and corruption and LL Cool J shooting shotguns at people, but delivering on nothing. This is an uninteresting, lazily-acted thriller lacking a molecule of suspense and boasting only a handful of half-baked action scenes. Frankly, I can see why its big-screen unveiling was aborted.
The obvious point of criticism is Timberlake's performance. I have nothing against the guy and actually think he's got some pretty good comic sensibilities (check out his Punk'd spoof on SNL). Here, though, he's saddled with an enormous amount of responsibility to carry the film's dramatic weight. Make no mistake: despite his listing in the credits, this is Timberlake's movie, and, almost certainly, a hoped-for star-making vehicle. The problem is he's consistently outshone by his costars, most notable Spacey and Freeman who, while phoning it in, are still Kevin Spacey and Morgan frickin' Freeman. You've got to keep pace to hang with those big dogs, and Timberlake -- at-this point -- doesn't have the chops. In more than a few scenes with the three together, I felt I was watching a newborn gazelle being propped up on its shaky, spindly legs by a pair of coddling adults. "Come on Justin, you can do it, you can do it!" Sorry, dude, but I just don't think the drama/thriller genre is where your acting talents lie.
Lucky for him, Edison Force is already a stinker to begin with, so it's not as if he torpedoed a promising film with his sub-par performance There is absolutely nothing new here, and when the film tries to get cute it comes across as utterly ridiculous (an embryonic fascist state? Huh?!?). And because you've seen everything before -- the loose cannon antagonist, the hard-ass cop with a good heart who fights against corruption, the wise-cracking, all-knowing senior citizen, the slimeball white guys -- don't expect any suspense. In fact, the only tension that's attempted to be manufactured is if Pollack's girlfriend will die. Hey, we already know Deed's a good guy and that Pollack will get his story and learn a lot and the dirty cops will get their comeuppance for menacing the poor drug runners, so we need something to hold our interest.
In the end, the only thing Edison Force will hold is the screen door open, by jamming the disc into the hinges.
The disc looks fine enough, with a snazzy 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (and an optional full frame presentation) and two 5.1 audio tracks (English and French). A promotional "behind the scenes" feature sports cast members fawning over each other, apparently oblivious to the mediocrity that infests their film.
The best action scene in the film -- actually, the best any scene in the film -- is the office fight between Deed and Lazerov (Dylan McDermott). It's brutal and bloody, with the two men pounding on each other with telephone receivers and staplers.
The ass title is a harbinger for the ass movie that awaits you. Simple paycheck efforts for everyone involved.
This Edison is a dim bulb. Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R