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2004-04-08

As I approached the water cooler this morning, I came across one of my colleagues. He was leaning over to fill his dinky paper cup, and didn’t notice me. As he stepped back, his foot hit the side of a garbage can, making a conspicuous “clang.” Still unaware of my presence, he muttered, “Uh-oh, I’ve kicked the bucket.” I’m entertained by the notion that he utters witty one-liners to himself when nobody else is around. It lends credibility to the film convention of the wisecracking action hero who pauses after being exploded out of a third-story window to quip, “That’s going to hurt in the morning,” despite the fact that ostensibly no one is around to feel the razor edge of his wit. So there you go, random co-worker! You have single-handedly – or single-footedly, I should say – validated the existence of Bruce Willis. And the world is the better for it.

Speaking of crap action flicks, I will now demonstrate my critical prowess by giving a review of a movie I haven’t seen. I pride myself on my ability to make snap judgments. You call it closed-mindedness; I call it efficiency. (For example, I can tell whether I’d be interested in pursuing an attractive bloke just by looking at his shoes, saving myself hours of potentially painful small talk. The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the shoes are the windows to the style, which is much more important. I will spare the “soul/sole” joke here, because I’m just too good for that.)

I’ve had to sit through numerous previews of the new Denzel Washington flick, Man on Fire, AKA Yes, Virginia, There IS a Mexican Drug Cartel, AKA Training Day II: This Time, Who Cares? Those previews were enough to keep me on the edge of my seat – not from tension or excitement, but from sheer aggravation. I think I actually made “Pffft, WHATEVER” noises at the screen, purely as a defensive reflex. Does anyone need to see this movie? No. Because it is not a “movie” as such; merely a pastiche of elements from one hundred million other crappy movies. They pulled every old hat out of the cliché closet for this one; and the corn nugget on the shit-cake is my favourite cliché of all: the Precocious Child, who slowly warms the curmudgeonly heart of cliché number two: the man who has Seen Too Much. Gee, guys, could you recycle any more tired tricks? Don’t tell me – let me guess! – is our hero coming back out of retirement to do One Last Job, against his better judgment?

This story has been done before, and it has been done much, much better. And what chafes my ass about this shit is that they’re trying to sell the hackneyed, asinine non-plot by dressing it up with all sorts of “artsy” cinematography, all hot-spectrum colour filters and jittery shot splicing, as though the audience will be lulled into a trance by the skewy camera angles and won’t realize that they’re watching a precocious child warm the heart of a hardened mercenary, AGAIN. I wonder if Denzel will finally learn how to let himself feel love, only to have his newfound friend ripped from his embrace by a megalomaniacal villain with a cartoonish accent! Oh, wait, I DON’T WONDER AT ALL, because the Hollywood Script-Bot is incapable of churning anything original out of its mechanical, soulless bowels. My rating: four corn shit-nuggets out of five.

Of course, if they splatter the precocious child in a messy red Rorschach pattern all over the streets of Mexico City, I will retract everything I just said. And on that note, happy Easter!

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