2001
Rated: R for graphic violence and adult language.
Genre: Thriller Drama/Romance Action
Directed By: Ric Roman Waugh
Running Time: 1:45
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 1/11/04
DVD Features:
Trailer
IN THE SHADOWS

 

I've seen my share of straight to video and low-budget films in my day, and about 98 percent of them are terrible, however I have seen a few gems within the pile of excrement regarding "Ginger Snaps" and "Kolobos". It's a shame this belongs among the pile of garbage shoved onto the Rental market. Why these talented actors continue to star in these shoddy straight to video cinematic messes continues to remain a mystery to me because while the film isn't a typical cookie cutter action film, it's still terrible to watch and is of shockingly poor quality regardless. The biggest mystery of the film is why James Caan (whose been in such critically acclaimed and legendry films as "Godfather" and "Rollerball") would star along side the cast of basic B-listers, but it's no mystery why Cuba Gooding Jr. would star. He's managed to become a big disappointment to me on every level from all parts of acting and the numerous low-quality movies he's starred in over the span of his career.
          What becomes the inevitable primary downfall of the film is not the cast, but the shoddy directing on the part of Ric Roman Waugh who also writes the terrible script. There's plenty of story set-up to go around in this film and attempted character study amidst a range of uninteresting characters, but none of the material given is interesting enough to watch for an hour and a half. The movie reveals the life of a Hollywood stuntman and the secret life of a Hollywood stuntman. The mafia hires Eric a conflicted but skilled hit man, who always has a hard time killing his marks, to kill Lance Huston, an aged retired stuntman and supervisor for younger stuntmen who blames himself for the death of his apprentice after he purposely rigged a stunt. His apprentice is killed but was also linked with the mafia and some powerful men.
          The mafia sends Eric (who, did I mention is conflicted morally and mentally?) and is sent to kill Lance but stumbles onto his daughter Clarissa played by Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy, Big Daddy) who is loyal to her father and is a doctor who is performing questionable activities within her practice. They instantly form a relationship and he gains the trust of Lance who makes him his apprentice after much begging from Eric and becomes a stuntman himself. The film never truly catches on with its truly potentially great script but fails on many aspects of plot and characters. We watch as the story becomes bogged down by meaningless and tacked on subplots throughout the film, including the drug-dealing plot with Gooding Jr. who pulls off an unconvincing role as a gangster/pimp Draven wearing ridiculous braids and scoffing and scowling with exaggerated facial expressions and spouting terrible dialogue that does him no justice; he's about as believable as a gangster as Russell Crowe is a woman. The directing is simply sloppy and editing a sheer mess of moviemaking with embarrassing and often dull scenes inserted in the muddled grim settings that make Hollywood look more like Gotham City.
          If there's an aspect of the film out of the list that stood out and one that I hated the most was the embarrassing cinematography by Chuck Cohen who creates a travesty of filmmaking material with his overtly amateur photography. It's evident during the viewing that he has no idea which scenes to craft dispositions for, and it all becomes so inept that it also ends up as distracting and makes the film difficult to watch. Cohen creates many off-mood settings for the film often showing the dark and grim scenes look more like an out of focus bootlegged movie while the bright scenes look too gritty, glossy, and hazy to the point where it's almost un-watchable. He attempts to craft Elizabethan moods for an over-used concept with much scenes resembling a painting. The climax of the film is ultimately unsatisfying with a story twist that's awfully forced and makes a general fool out of Caan's character when he follows Eric on his final confrontation with the mafia resembling more "I Love Lucy" overtones than heroic. The last scenes are so half-baked it left me angered and annoyed, but there's no redeeming qualities whatsoever in a film of this magnitude.

Not the worst movie I've ever seen, but poorly directed, poorly acted, poorly scripted, and even worse cinematography are what bog this movie into a downward spiral.