Is Philip Atwell's War Worth Watching?

War sees agent Jack Crawford hunting down the assassin known as Rogue after he killed his partner and family.

One look at any poster for this movie prompts a sort of B-movie novelty and excitement in Statham and Li going toe to toe with one other. One could only hope.

War does anything but deliver on its rudimentary premise. This movie is directed by someone who’s incapable of building suspense, who’s incapable of lending a voice to composition, who’s incapable of crystallising characters, who only seemed capable of making an action flick so gormlessly moot and dispensable that I instantly forgot about it.

Why is the story so tonally somniferous? Why is there so little action? Why are the characters so perniciously rigid? This script is utterly fatal and the way it materialises really shows. From the high-velocity edits to a surplus soundtrack to dissident stock punching SFX, this movie had no concept of presentation, all of these choices resulted in a stylistically dated, visually invidious mess.

There was nothing on a technical level that I was able to glean from a minute of it all. The acting is nothing short of torpid, there was not a single individual in this movie that I believed. Jason Statham can act (watch Hummingbird or Redemption for evidence) but the estranged dynamic he has with Andrea Roth suggests otherwise.

Nothing about their relationship added to the plot. It never felt conducive to building stakes or prompting empathy, it was just very weak. Jet Li excels when he’s not speaking, but he speaks a good bit here, it doesn’t work, it really doesn’t work.

Statham and Li’s paths do cross a couple of times, but never significantly until the final 10 minutes, and even then I had zoned out completely. I’ll give credit where credit is due: this movie has a ridiculous twist that actually woke me up a little bit at the sheer stupidity of it.

I also couldn’t help but think: “Why couldn’t it have been like this the whole time?” But then I was swiftly reminded of the tedium when I was hit by a confusingly brusque ending. The fate of a certain character is treated like an afterthought and the subsequent transition just felt way too jarring for me.

War had potential. But it was placed in the wrong hands. The plot is stultified by lacking leads, a chronically miscalculated style and an over-abundance of scenes that lead to nothing. It’s not fun, it lacks economy, it’s terribly placed. The epitome of monosemy.

Written by Seán Mac G.

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