Judge Clark Douglas hopes you won't notice he doesn't make sense, while shouting and blowing things up.
Timing is everything.
"The military taught me three things: how to kill, how to steal, and never surrender information."
Facts of the Case
So, this movie starts and I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I see flashes of a car driving down a road. At least, I think it's a car driving down a road. The opening credits are cutting back and forth between these images and names of the key members of the cast and crew. Noisy rock music is playing, meaning that we're watching is supposed to be exciting, I guess. Then all of this ends and finally informs us that the film is called 7 Seconds. Huh. Okay, whatever. Let's get started.
Hey, is that Wesley Snipes (Boiling Point)? The now-infamous Wesley Snipes (The Art of War)? Hey, that is Wesley Snipes (Blade)! He's in bed with some woman who has a European accent. He gets out of bed, says something about having a job to do. More noisy music (this time a rip of David Holmes' Oceans 11 score), and a reasonably odd montage that seems to have no sense of direction or purpose. We get the general idea that somebody is robbing something and that Snipes is leading the way. There is a group of obnoxious guys with Snipes calling each other "queers," which is of course what all real men do before they rob somebody. Anyway, everybody scuttles this way and that and appear to be carrying out some sort of heist, because they're all wearing black, running around, and making little signals to each other. Enter the following dialogue between two of the crooks: "Are you guys hamsters or something?" "Yeah, crazy hamsters, Boo. Ahahaha!"
I'm still having a little trouble making much sense of this, so I figure I'll just sit back and wait to see if I can figure out what these guys are robbing. Where is Jason Statham? It feels like he should be here, but he's not. Is that a really good thing or a really bad thing? Anyway, it seems that the ultimate purpose here is to show us that something has gone wrong with the heist (other than the incoherent direction and sloppy dialogue, I mean). Somehow, Wesley Snipes has wound up the unintentional owner of a super-valuable Van Gogh painting, and there's a member of Snipes' crew being held hostage by some Russians who have appeared out of nowhere. Hey, why are the Russians involved?
That doesn't particularly matter. The point is that Snipes needs to rescue his buddy, which means that he's going to go out and beat up some people. There is also a very attractive woman involved in the mission, whose purpose seems to be to provide a regular dose of cleavage to the otherwise testosterone-dominated proceedings. Will Snipes be able to rescue his friend? No fair telling, but I can guarantee you that he is going to make more than a few people hurt by the end of the day.
Coherence has become one of my favorite cinematic virtues. Once upon a time, I often took it for granted, but these days it's harder and harder to find, particularly in action movies. Watching 7 Seconds, I kept thinking to myself: "Did they actually storyboard any of this stuff, or did they just make it all up as they went along and hope something would come together in the editing room?" While the basic concept of the movie is as simple as they come (guy beats up people along the way to rescuing his friend), there were so many little moments throughout the movie that left me confused. This movie makes a chaotic action blockbuster like Bad Boys II seem positively graceful and well-structured. There is a car chase in which lots of things are crushed and smashed and ruined, but there is absolutely no sense of geography whatsoever.
The screenplay by Martin Wheeler is responsible for a lot of really bad dialogue. When we're not being subjected to cringe-worthy attempts at Tarantino-style hipness (a sample: "I don't know zip, P. Diddy. Dude's trying to jump up my crib, and boom, Spanky was out, just like Buster Douglas…'cept for that Tyson fight, hehehe"), we're subjected to banal exchanges between a whole host of bad actors. Check out the brief scene about twenty-five minutes into the film when a woman has a conversation with several police officers. See if you can count just how many horrible lines are delivered in a nails-on-a-chalkboard manner during this scene (I'd estimate about 14 or so). All the characters are painfully simplistic. This is hardly Snipes' finest hour, but he acts circles around everyone else in the film simply by having some standard-issue C-level star charisma.
The action scenes here, as I hinted earlier, are sound and fury signifying nothing. There are a lot of gunshots, a lot of explosions, a lot of people (none of whom we care about) killed, all set to crappy techno music by Barry Taylor. The movie's rhythm becomes quite predictable very quickly: pointless action scene, bad dialogue scene, supposedly dramatic murder, pointless action scene. For good measure, we also get a painfully prolonged torture scene that would undoubtedly make Mel Gibson happy. Everything about this film feels predictable and cheap. Its frequent attempts to provide the vibe of a big, expensive movie only make things worse.
At least the DVD transfer is okay, sharp and clean from start to finish. Blacks aren't quite deep enough, but otherwise the film looks good. Sound is solid and well-balanced overall; this is a noisy track that will give your speakers a solid workout. The disc is equipped with BD Live, but if you click on the menu that says "Special Features," the only thing you get is a handful of previews for other movies. Not even a lame featurette with clips of the cast and crew defending this rubbish? Maybe nobody wanted to talk about Wesley Snipes. Had I been involved in this production, I certainly would be too ashamed to talk about anything else in the movie.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
There's one scene in which Snipes knocks a guy out by using some sort of martial arts move that looks more or less like the equivalent of a limp slap. That made me giggle a little.
This really is a miserably little action movie. To appreciate it, one must have the ability to look at their television with a blank stare, drooling appreciably at the fact that things on the screen are moving and making loud noises. If you're looking for an entertaining story, good acting, or even some basic competently-crafted thrills, you're better off looking elsewhere. I wish this film actually had been 7 Seconds.
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