Review by James Lindorf
Black Water reunites action-movie icons, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, for the fourth time, in a tale of undersea espionage. Saban Films will show the one-time Dish Network exclusive in select cities around the country, as well as making it available On Demand, starting June 29th.
After a failed mission, legendary deep-cover CIA operative, Scott Wheeler (Van Damme), believed to be a traitor, is taken to the CIA’s most top-secret black site aboard a submarine. The men investigating him will stop at nothing to recover the files that were lost, but they are caught unprepared when Wheeler joins forces with Marco (Lundgren). Marco is a man too dangerous to be set free and too valuable to kill. His life has become isolation, when he isn’t being tortured, and blindly traveling the world below the waves.
I enjoyed this movie, and I think if it came out in the 80’s or early 90’s, it could have been an action classic. It has all the elements to fit in with those films: It has not one, but two big names. It’s full of patriotism. There is a damsel in distress, a woman that can kick butt, and a charismatic but underdeveloped villain. Unfortunately, this film has two things working against it in order to be on par with those movies.
First, the runtime is a little inflated. In the tight confines of a submarine, the action scenes, while good, begin to feel a bit repetitive. I think cutting the runtime from 105 to 90-95 minutes would have given a boost to the film’s intensity. Second is that this is 2018 and not 1988. I still found Van Damme very entertaining and thought he pulled off the action that was asked of him, but it is clear he is not capable of 50% of what he used to do. There isn’t a single split or kick over someone’s head in this movie. I do commend the fight choreographer, Kieran Gallagher, on designing action that compliments the actors.
While Black Water may not be an action classic, it fits in well with movies like The Last Stand, The Escape Plan, and The Expendables where we get to see if the heroes of yesteryear still have it. With the right expectations, this can be a good way to pass the time. However, with the wrong expectations, you will be left disappointed.