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Dec 15, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Brothers and Ninja Assassin

I wouldn't fault you for confusing Brothers with Ninja Assassin. Not one bit. I mean, they're practically the same movie.

First, you have the story of two siblings, each who take divergent paths in life. One has let down his strict, somewhat crazy father, while the other has maintained loyal to the principals his father taught him. This will result in deep familial conflict and trauma when outside influences strain to tear them apart. One brother will have inappropriate relations with the others' significant other, straining their relationship further.

And then there's Brothers.

Okay, so an Afghanistan-tinged family drama and a ninja-crazy action flick don't really have that much in common, but admit that I sold you for at least a couple seconds, ok?

Brothers is Oscar bait that just doesn't quite have the script or storytelling to match up with the acting. It's that rare breed - a high-concept drama, a film so limited in story that you can sum it up in less than x words: Good son presumed dead. Bad son redeems himself looking after the other's family but gets too close. Trouble ensues when other brother ain't dead. And that's really all there is to it. Writer David Benioff and director Jim Sheridan attempt to infuse the story with some background daddy issues (he's a Vietnam vet; the good son followed in his footsteps and the "bad" son is a ne'er-do-well), but it never sticks and, even worse, is more or less abandoned without ever being resolved.

What's most interesting to me is that three films just released this winter all cover some very similar ground. First came The Messenger, a film that showed us the grueling job of death news bearer and the damage it inflicted on those that do it. Then came Brothers, which also dealt with that exact situation, though the news turned out to be false. Finally, Up In the Air comes sailing in, telling the story of a man that fires people for a living, delivers news that might not be fatal, but is just about the next worst thing. I'm not generally one that picks up on what a grouping of films tells us about the temperature of America (i.e. whatever it is that zombie movies indicate, which I've forgotten already - something about the Cold War, I think), but clearly we're in a place where we're braced for terrible things. With the economy in the shitter, countless lives being lost in multiple wars and 10% unemployment nationwide, Hollywood wants us to know that it feels our pain.

Speaking of pain, did you know that ninjas don't feel any? That they train themselves to heal their wounds (the limit of which is never discussed), do handstand push ups on a bed of nails, walk on coals, and breathe fire? Okay, so that last one's not true, but all of the other "skills" (and many more) are on full display in the latest directorial effort from V for Vendetta director James McTiegue.

For as many bad movies as I'm loathe to love, sometimes I feel like flicks such as Ninja Assassin just aren't for me. As much as I'd like to be able to sit in my comfy seat, turn my brain off, and enjoy the splatters of blood and decapitations and vast array of deadly weapons on display, I'm seemingly incapable of not noticing so many errors and inconsistencies the film brings, to say nothing of people with hearts on the wrong side of their bodies.

Assassin offers plenty of action - some of it entertaining, most of it rubbish - but is plainly not written well-enough, either in terms of character or story, to be taken seriously as a good film. When the names Wachowski and McTiegue (a Matrix vet and the director of V for Vendetta) are thrown around, there is a certain level of expectation - yes, even for an action film - that needs to be met, and Ninja does not...cut the mustard. (Yeah, I said it.)


Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

Ninja Assassin

Fletch's Film Rating:
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

1 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Brothers and Ninja Assassin"

Reel Whore said...

I haven't seen Brothers yet so I skipped down to Ninja Assassin. I liked the action, but there's a lack of story. Too many training flashbacks, when some plot details would have been helpful.