Far Cry
Vivendi Entertainment // Unrated // $26.99 // November 24, 2009
Review by Nick Hartel | posted November 30, 2009
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Uwe Boll's "Far Cry" should have been a slam-dunk to direct, given the source material's story lite, action heavy depth. Boll's output is a technically sound mediocre action piece that is begins a slow death upon the introduction of the film's hero, Jack Carver (Til Schweiger). The premise of the game is a perfect match for the insanity of a mid-80s Golan-Globus production, but even with those incredibly low standards, Boll fails on almost every level here.

The film sports cover art that evokes images of the original game, a tropical island, explosions, attack helicopters, and mercenaries. Instead, the viewer is thrown into the forests of Canada (a decision Boll claims is a result of action scenes being impossible to film outside of the US or Canada) as witness to the slaughter of a squad of soldiers by an unseen, superhuman force. Fans of the game series (which I consider myself among) will instantly recognize this massacre as a result of Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier delivering a trademark creepy Udo Kier performance) and his genetically enhanced soldiers. The film reveals that it has been shelved for quite some time when the moneyman behind Krieger's research shows up and is briefly played by the late Don S. Davis. At this point, I actually found myself lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that Boll had finally made at least a B-rate action movie, despite the major setting change, but I would soon be proven wrong when our hero, Carver makes his first appearance minutes later ferrying a married couple on a whale watching tour. Here, the trademark poor dialogue and overacting one comes to expect from an Uwe Boll production kicks in.

Things don't get much better when the film's narrative progression device, reporter Valerie (Emmanuelle Vaugier) tells her boss (a random Michael Pare cameo) that she's using her vacation time to investigate what is going on at a mysterious lumber mill located in the forest. Naturally she meets up with Carver, who she hires to ferry her to the island, with plans of meeting her uncle, Max, a spy inside Krieger's operation. It's a very simple set-up and not too far removed from the plot of the game that propels Jack into action, but it takes up a third of the film's 95-minute runtime. When we finally get the next action piece, things are so dark and quickly edited, that all hope for a salvageable movie are thrown out the window.

The remainder of the film struggles to unfold and tries to kill more time with bizarre, out of place humor, including an awkward scene of romance and the appearance of an overweight caterer who gets paired up with Carver; laughs do not ensue. In retrospect, the plot of the video game is far meatier, despite being as clichéd as a mindless shooter can get. The performances here range from bafflingly bad to nearly passable (mostly Udo Kier, who is playing a role he's done a hundred times before). Til Schweiger is particularly bad and it's very hard to understand how this is the same guy who was so memorable as the infamous Hugo Stiglitz in "Inglorious Basterds." I've seen Schweiger in films before and he was very entertaining; here he has two emotions: mildly amused and apathetic. The less said about Vaugier's baffled boredom, despite being kidnapped by a madman with an army of psychotic killers, the better.

Far Cry's remaining action scenes are the only real standout, but by the time they rolled around, I just didn't care anymore. You'll get your fair share of shootouts and explosions, culminating in some of the enhanced soldiers displaying some impressive fighting skills. Technically Boll shows he can shoot a film well and direct solid B-rate action, but when it comes to securing even an average script or getting a passable performance from actors, he still has a long way to go. In terms of his other video game films, "Far Cry" is easily his best work yet, but technical merits aside, doesn't aspire to his D+ rate improvised Vietnam action piece, "Tunnel Rats." Fortunately, it looks like Boll's days of setting the videogame film genre back in credibility are coming to an end. He still doesn't deserve the intense rancor the internet likes to bestow on him, but that doesn't mean he's still a director who has a ways to go before being considered passable.


The Video

The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is incredibly solid. Detail is strong and there's no sign of edge enhancement. Color levels are faithfully reproduced from the green forests of Canada to the stark white interiors of Dr. Krieger's lab. Contrast however, is a bit too strong and during the film's initial action set pieces, both in the woods surrounding the facility at night, it can be very difficult to make out the action, especially with the sometimes rapid editing.

The Audio

The 5.1 English Dolby Digital audio track is well used and packs a lot of kick when the soundtrack and explosions spring forth, but the effects of the gunfire, which there is plenty of, falls flat. Dialogue is clear and well balanced in relation to the rest of the film however. A 2.0 English audio track is present as well.

The Extras

The film's most substantial extra is a commentary track featuring Uwe Boll, a producer, a member of post production, and an intern. Boll comes off as jovial fellow and the group maintain a fairly consistent, but ultimately unimpressive track. Boll does reveal how he secured the rights to the film and things finally make sense regarding why he seems to keep getting the rights to these franchises. Apparently, the developers of the game were neighbors with Boll and prior to the game hitting the PC, Boll secured the rights to a film adaptation.

The remainder of the special features consist of a roughly ten-minute behind the scenes featurette that is very self congratulatory, but confirms that despite his sub par output as a director, Boll is apparently very easy to work with. A six-minute featurette on the film's CGI is a bit bland but illuminating, mostly due to the subtle ways the CGI was used, that I didn't pick up on while watching the film. Last but not least are a collection of deleted scenes and outtakes, all of which add nothing to the final product and are mostly extensions of scenes. The film's theatrical trailer is included as well.

Final Thoughts

While the action pieces are easily watchable and I dare say, entertaining, the narrative the viewer has to endure to get to the good scenes is far too trying. If the movie has one saving grace, it's that it is excellent fodder for a future RiffTrax release. Fans of the gaming series, heed my warning, you'll be more disappointed than the poor soul who rents this looking for B-rate action. Skip It.

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