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How many direct-to-video wank-fests does one (formerly admired) action star have to appear in before he's officially considered "kind of a joke"? Based on the evidence that Mr. Wesley Snipes has presented over the past several months, I suppose that answer would have to be "three films, and each one has to be worse than the last."
Following the career-dooming double-feature of 7 Seconds and Unstoppable, Mr. Snipes went back to the easy money well one more time, and the result was the Romania-lensed, technically deficient, and entertainment-free The Marksman, which is a movie that's just as bad as the worst junkpiles tossed to guys like Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren, and/or Jean-Claude Van Damme. (How one canny crap-producer hasn't had the idea to cast all four of these floundering action-cronies into one mega-battle is beyond me; I can only assume the salaries would eat up the entire budget.)
For what it's worth, The Marksman is about a guy with a gun. Shocker, eh? Snipes plays a guy called "Painter," soldier-boy extraordinaire assigned with the task of rescuing hostages, "painting" an air-strike target (hence the clever name), and basically thwarting a crazy Russian lunatic who has possession of a nuclear weapon. To say much more about the plot would imply that there is much more about the plot, and I simply refuse to lie to my loyal readers. And those expecting lots of good, dumb action will be severely ticked-off; I've seen more gunplay and butt-kicking in half a random episode of JAG.
Also, a "plot twist" occurs about halfway through -- one that qualifies as a "twist" only if you've never seen Rambo: First Blood Part 2 ... or you've never heard of the term "double-cross." Yawn.
Written, directed, lensed, and edited with all the grace of a drum-set falling down an elevator shaft, The Marksman marks the first real dung-heap of helmer Marcus Adams' career. I was rather a fan of his debut (Long Time Dead), and I felt his sophomore effort (Octane) was flawed-yet-interesting -- but Mr. Adams must get out from under the DTV champions before their tainted careers pull him under for good.
Snipes, for his part, expresses nothing but outright disdain for the project throughout the entire movie. He stares, he glowers, he mumbles; he never once stops to actually create a character or display any sort of ex-movie star magnetism. Frankly the guy looks bored, annoyed, and perpetually in agony regarding his paltry career options. (Now he knows how I feel every time I watch a new Wesley Snipes DVD.)
Perhaps worthy of note to those old enough to remember her: Emma "Dynasty" Sams pops up in a small role that's just long enough to make us think she's starting to look a little like Angela Lansbury. Also, she's still a rather terrible actress, which means she fits in The Marksman quite perfectly.
Video: Despite the Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer, the picture quality ranges from passable (in the daylight scenes) to pretty darn grainy when things get dark -- which is often. The mediocre transfer clicks perfectly with the rest of the film; nobody else tried very hard, so why should the DVD technicians?
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, with fairly strong volume levels throughout. Granted, many of the actors choose to mumble their dialogue in nearly inaudible fashion, but the audio track is generally fine.
Extras: Just a bunch of trailers for 7 Seconds, Unstoppable, Submerged, It's All Gone Pete Tong, and the Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children video game.
Much as I hate to be a party to gossip, it's somewhat common knowledge among those who follow such things that Wesley Snipes is ... kind of a jerk to work with. (I have a journalist friend who witnessed a lot of prima-donna bullshit from the guy on the Blade 3 set.) Perhaps this explains why the formerly compelling and now borderline-comedic actor has jumped into the DTV garbage pile with such grumpy enthusiasm; because Hollywood can't be bothered with the guy anymore.
But even those who still consider themselves true-blue Snipes Supporters would have a tough time sitting through his last three low-budget Romanian ego-fests. Still, I do look forward to the day I can honestly say "This newest Wesley Snipes flick ... actually isn't bad!" But I'm certainly not holding my breath on that one.