Sunday, September 22, 2013

No One Lives

When the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) first entered the movie making business it was to develop films that would feature their suplexing superstars in the lead roles. The first few were The Marine with John Cena, The Condemned with Steve Austin and See No Evil with Kane. Lately they’ve ditched their self-promotion and branched out to projects like The Call with Halle Berry, Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell and No One Lives with Luke Evans.

A couple on the road to start a new life runs afoul a band of violent thieves, but things are not all that they seem…
I will not ruin all the twists and turns this movie has to offer, so this will be a spoiler free review.

I am a huge fan of Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura. He helmed some of my favorite genre films, such as Versus (a martial arts/yakuza/zombie film) and Azumi (an adaptation of a popular manga). I have also enjoyed most of this other projects, like Skyhigh, Godzilla: Final Wars, Alive and his first American feature Midnight Meat Train based off a short story by Clive Barker. He has a style like no other (Alex Proyas stole a unique camera move from Azumi for use in I, Robot), his films are kinetic in the extreme and his utter joy of filmmaking flies off the screen with every shot. So you understand that it pains me to say that No One Lives is one of his weakest films in terms of everything. It’s lacking the fun, it’s lacking the style and it’s lacking the Kitamuraness that I love.
This is a soulless film that almost feels mechanical in its execution. It’s devoid of anything to endear the audience to the characters, their situation or their fight for survival. The script by David Cohen pretty much hinges on the big twist that occurs about a quarter of the way through, and once that occurs it’s plainly obvious that the screenplay has showed its hand too early and it happens to be a bluff. After that the film turns into a typical cat and mouse thriller with a bit more gore thrown in to keep genre fans interested.

The cast is impressive, with up and coming leading man Luke Evans (Furious 6, Immortals, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) taking center stage. He has charisma, that’s for certain, and he’s very physical. The thing is that his part is uninteresting and clich├ęd. Young Adelaide Clemens (Silent Hill: Revelation, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Great Gatsby) is a gifted actress, but she keeps picking crap movies to star in. She tries the tough girl routine here and most of the time it comes off as just that - “trying the tough girl routine”. Lee Tergesen (The Collection, Wayne’s World, Homicide: Life on the Street) doesn’t get much screen time, America Olivo (Bitch Slap, Friday the 13th) is annoyingly bitchy, Laura Ramsey (The Ruins, Venom) IS annoying and the rest of the cast is meh. Only Derek Magyar (Star Trek: Enterprise, Phantom) looks like he’s really trying and comes off as the insane bad ass his character is written as. If there was one star making performance in this waste of film it’s his.
Sorry about the brevity of this review, but there really isn’t that much more to say without giving events away. Sure the big twist is a huge WTF moment, but it’s revealed too early and the rest of the movie attempts and fails to live up to that premise. It was a good effort by all involved, but in the end the script is too weak to sustain itself and crumbles under its own lofty ambitions.

I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I hate a Ryuhei Kitamura film, and that film is No One Lives. It’s dumb, predictable and bland. As excited I as I was to hear that he was coming to our shores in 2007 to start making films in America, I am just as disappointed in the direction his career has gone since then. I hope that he returns to his native land to show all his fans that he still has it within him to kick our collective asses once again. And I hope that project is the long rumored Versus 2. Make it happen.

1 out of 5

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