Hell Freezes Over

Someone in hell should check the forecast for flurries, because Uwe Boll made a decent movie.  No, that’s not a typo

For those you not in the know (lucky) Uwe Boll is “filmmaker” who is notorious for writing, producing, and directing some of the worst films to ever receive a theatrical release.  Just look at the “Known Here” part of his IMDB page. I mean, just look at it.  Holy sh*t.

See, I’ve often defended the likes of Michael Bay and Brett Ratner for at least, you know, knowing how to operate movie-making equipment.  Uwe Boll has always been Ehibit A for people who don’t even know the technical side of making a movie.  Some of his films, I swear, weren’t shot on film, but VHS tape; that’s just how bad they look.  In the movie-nerd world, he is a whipping boy, an outcast, and a living, breathing punchline.  If you’ve ever sat through any of his movies (if you made it to the end, then more power to you), you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But, as my dad and I were checking the latest additions to the Netflix instant queue, we saw a cover that depicted a dude in some kind of swat-team body armor; the movie was called Rampage.  As soon as we checked the info and I saw “Written and Directed by Uwe Boll”, I very politely suggested, “f*ck that; on to the next title.” I then explained why, which only piqued his interest. And, I have to say, since this wasn’t any kind of videogame adaptation (Boll’s specialty), I was somewhat curious myself.

So we watched it and….*nods head* not bad. Not bad. Now, it’s not a masterpiece or anything; there’s a little too much film-school cross-cutting in the editing. It also has that major pet-peeve of mine where guns fire roughly a billion bullets before the film shows them reloading.  Other than that, though, I found myself pretty entertained and engaged through the whole thing.

Thematically, the movie reminded me of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant.  Only, whereas that movie was about a Colombine-esque high school shooting (and was a first class indie film circle-jerk), this is about a young man in his early 20’s who goes on a more well-planned and cleverly plotted shooting spree down a small town shopping district.   Elephant set us up for the shooting by… showing a series of disconnected high school clichés that don’t come across as realistic, or give personality to the characters.  When the shooting went down, the violence was vivid, but you didn’t know these people and didn’t really give a sh*t.

Rampage follows the shooter from the get-go, making him into a slightly demented but realistic wayward youth.  There is a scene of him arguing with his boss at work about his lunch break and some (intentionally) awkward scenes about his parents trying – too politely – to get him to move out of their basement.    Then there is the scene where he and a buddy are sitting at a fast-food joint complaining about, you know, society, man.  This rang especially true to me.  I have quite a few memories of hanging out with friends in my late teens, just sitting around and solving humanity’s problems for them; don’t thank us, we’re just some young guys who know everything.  The guy is played by Brendan Fletcher, who was a genius casting decision.  He gives off a very nervous, twitchy vibe, like someone who always sits with his back to the wall.

When he finally puts on his cobbled together suit (made from mail-order parts) and took up arms with his twin machine guns (also, mail-ordered), the violence is actually shocking because we just spent the last 40 minutes getting to know this guy.  When he first steps into the street and casually fires it into the windshield of an oncoming truck and it drifts into a pole with the horn honking Chinatown-style, you are all “Holy sh*t, this guy’s actually nuts!”  This feeling only continues as he just mows down every person he sees.

I’ve intentionally left out some major details because, really, you should check it out.  There is a bombing scene that is cleverly staged, a scene in a bingo hall that almost reaches a level of genius, and some actually cool plot twists.

Bottom line, Uwe Boll made what is arguably a pretty decent movie.  It’s a hell of a lot better than Elephant, and better than a lot of theatrically released action flicks nowadays.  In fact it’s so uncharacteristically good compared to the rest of his garbage, I swear he is just f*cking with us.  It’s the equivalent of the book store scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, where Steve Carell  macks on Elizabeth Banks like a boss, then goes back to being a bumbling virgin.

I was hoping that this would start an upward trend in quality for Boll and  – ah, son of a bitch.

Grade: B

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