Fire with Fire: Grades out decently

Fire with Fire – 2012

Director David Barrett
Starring Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Julian McMahon, Kevin Dunn, Richard Schiff, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Screenplay David Barrett

Josh Duhamel (Jeremy Coleman / Douglas): I like him better than I should.  What he’s done thus far has been material that is not real demanding.  Thing is, he has an excess of charisma that he puts to good use.  Here is no exception.  His fireman taken in to witness protection could have been screwed up pretty easily.  By never investing the proper amount of innocent swagger mixed with enthusiasm, we get a real sense of a man who might make some desperate choices.  This is a good role for him, and he hits a solid double, then steals third.    Grade: B+

Rosario Dawson (Talia Durham):  She’s a good girl to have in a role that is a tad ridiculous.  A U.S. Marshal who falls for her charge in witness protection may not be the likeliest character, but Dawson always has one foot on the ground, so we buy it…a little.  She doesn’t have much to do but wait.  Who wouldn’t want someone like her waiting for them, even if it were unlikely that they would be allowed to see one another again.  Grade: B-

Bruce Willis (Det. Mike Cella): It’s another one of those roles for Willis where he uses about 1/3 of his talent.  This is enough to make up for The Expendables 2, and its enough for straight to video.  This is a man capable of pulling off a classic like R.E.D. as well as steaming pile like Cop Out with a straight face.  If I had to guess, Willis doesn’t do it for the money.  The job is like a meditation for him.  Mike Cella is curious, determined and seeks revenge.  Here Willis is not too curious or determined, and he is stepping back to let someone else get the revenge.  This is out of my Willis comfort zone.  Reading his lines without the nuance and wink that he has used in the past, or the exasperated experience he’s used in his best stuff lately, the performance is like comfort food.  Good, but don’t eat too much or too late.    Grade: B

Julian McMahon (Robert): The only way he could be in this film is as a hit man, right?  I guess he could be the leader of the bad guys, but then it would be even straighter to video.  The hair is really pretty cool, compared to what we’ve seen before.  His demeanor is very calm and cool, just like one might expect.  His scene with his fallen compadre really is pretty good.  Grade: A

50 Cent (Emilio):  He plays a gang leader.  That’s a stretch.  He uses his one move, which is to keep staring when all of those around them run off their mouths.  At least he didn’t mess that up.  Grade: C+

Vincent D’Onofrio (David Hagen):  Playing a bad guy with an inexplicable accent for Long Beach, California, D’Onofrio is all about quirk in every performance.  In this way, he is like an older, slightly less annoying Giovanni Ribisi.  If killing a shop owner and his son in cold blood were not evidence enough, he wears a neo-nazi tattoo.  He lumbers around like a guy who’s been comfortable for many years, talks calmly, and then he does desperate things.  At least he doesn’t kill his underlings for sport when they mess up.  Grade: C+

Vinnie Jones / Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (thugs):  It’s either this, or, as Dennis Miller said, listing cat-scans to their résumés.  Grade: C

Kevin Dunn (Agent Mullens):  These may be the only critical words ever written about a Kevin Dunn performance:  he is adequate.  What is with that hair, though?  Grade: C

Richard Schiff (Atty Harold Gethers): Would have said the same as Dunn, except he had a good scene describing why he does what he does.  Grade: B

Tom O’Connor (screenwriter):  There is nothing here that screams the film should have been in theaters…nothing here that would depress someone into shame if they watched it on a Thursday night, either.  It may lack a bit in the astonishment range, but there are no embarrassing lines, and no memorable ones, either.  Grade: B-

David Barrett (Director): As a 2nd Unit Director, he’s worked on some average movies, like The Orphan and The Fog.  As a director, he’s done some average TV Shows, like The Vampire Diaries and Once Upon A Time.  This work is good, especially the assassination attempts outside of the motel.  There is no artistic impression given, but I was entertained. Grade: B

(*** out of *****)

 

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