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Detonator, The

Sony Pictures // R // April 25, 2006
List Price: $26.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted April 21, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

There's no denying it anymore: Wesley Snipes has officially joined the cinematic softball team in which Steven Seagal plays first base, Jean Claude Van Damme is the pitcher, Chuck Norris is the designated hitter (hey, he's like 72 years old!), Dolph Lundgren is the shortstop, and Mark Dacascos is a bench player hitting .198. (Jeff Speakman and Michael Dudikoff sell hot dogs out in the stands.) This is not a particularly graceful or talented softball team, but these guys show up every day, intent on delivering the most Romanian action flicks under the sun. And Sony just keeps on buying the things!

Two types of people want to see The Detonator: the movie fans who still maintain an admiration for Wesley Snipes -- and those who just love to laugh at the guy. Suffice to say that both camps will find something to like in The Detonator. I'd graciously offer the opinion that The Detonator is Snipes' best effort in a little while -- but all that means is that The Detonator is only marginally less insipid than The Marksman, 7 Seconds, and Unstoppable. (Seriously, Sony should send me a merit badge for having sat through all four of 'em.)

One distinct group of people is to be credited with the scant amount of praise I can muster for The Detonator: the stuntpeople. And here's why: Jammed into The Detonator's 96 minutes are three or four surprisingly kinetic action sequences, each of which are actually quite cool. The gunfights and car chases are mounted with some gritty style -- and they're pretty long, too. Plus there's this one scene where a baddie gets blasted out of a window and konks his head really hard on a van parked outside. I actually went "Oh JEEZ!" when the guy's melon hit the van -- and then I started wondering if Romania has a stuntperson's union, because that one dude probably earned a splintered cranium for his extra efforts.

So yeah, the gun battles and crash-happy car chases are, all things considered, pretty damn cool. Unfortunately, those sequences represent only about 11% of The Detonator's running time, the remainder of which is dedicated to a plot best described as "a huge plate of familiar, with a side order of banal."

Snipes plays an angry loner of a CIA agent, and wouldn't you know it: The guy's always crackin' heads and shooting suspects in the neck when he should be apprehending live subjects and solving crimes. But hey, where's the fun in that? As punishment for a sting gone bad, Sonny Griffith (Snipes) is given a thankless assignment: Rescue an amazingly sexy Russian hottie from Romania and escort her back to the safety of the United States. (Given the budget of The Detonator, it should come as no surprise to learn that there's no cameo appearance from The United States. Romania all the way, baby!)

I've never been a huge fan of the "speed-through viewing," but I'm here to tell you that prolonged exposure to Wesley Snipes dialogue can absolutely melt your cerebellum, so get that FF button ready. Whenever you notice that more than, say, 54 words have been strung together without the interruption of a machine gun or vehicular explosion, click that button. Hit PLAY whenever the characters' lips are stationary, because that's when the action scenes start.

The DVD

Video: Anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), which brings the Romanian alleyways and warehouses home in fine fashion.

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, with optional English subtitles. The explosions and machine guns sound just dandy; unfortunately, so does the jibber-jabber.

Extras: Just a bunch of trailers for Hostel, Second in Command (Van Damme), The Russian Specialist (Lundgren), The Marksman (Snipes), Black Dawn (Seagal), 7 Seconds (Snipes), Unstoppable (Snipes), The Hunt for Eagle One (Dacascos), End Game and Dirty (both with Cuba Gooding). Yikes.

Final Thoughts

Don't think me cruel where Mr. Snipes is concerned. I'd love nothing more than to see the guy nail a big-screen comeback and earn himself a smash hit or an Oscar nomination. But as long as he's going to vacation in Romania, Prague, and Bulgaria -- while churning out only the most generic sort of cable-style action flicks -- I figure he's fair game.

That The Detonator is his least annoying DTV flick yet ... is not exactly cause for celebration.

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