Greetings again from the darkness. If only drive-in theaters were still the weekend hang-out of choice for teenage boys, this latest from director Joe Lynch would be the perfect second feature after some horror or slasher designed to generate oohs and ahhs through gross-outs (elevators and grenades are not a good mix).
After beginning with its most unsettling scene – gang abuse of a female (fortunately via black screen and sound effects) – the rest of the film plays just like an ultra-violent, hyper-speed video game. The two main distinctions here are that all of the action takes place inside a loft apartment, and the lead character is played by Salma Hayek. Having appeared in Desperado and From Dusk Til Dawn, Ms. Hayek is no stranger to wild action sequences, but here she carries every carnage-filled scene … all while slinking around in a silk slip or her favorite yoga pants.
Gun, knives, swords, grenades, chemicals and various other implements of destruction are brandished by Hayek, masked killers, greedy hookers, a SWAT team, and Hayek’s ex-pimp/kidnapper. We even get a character called “The Sadist” (Togo Igawa) in one of the most straight-forward character names in movie history. There is even an attack dog named Bonzai that is well-trained in everything except the difference between a ball and a grenade. And therein lies the saving grace here … the movie has some absurd humor that prevents the ultimate tone of dread by such films as Saw. The humor isn’t so much clever as it is outrageous … and it helps offset the gruesome and blood-filled body count (at least 20 in the first 20 minutes!).
Director Joe Lynch is more comfortable with horror films than action films, but it’s clear he has a love with B-movies, and he is fortunate enough to have Salma Hayek front and center. The only way to watch this is with your brain shifted to neutral. The level of ridiculous is off the scale and includes too many “that makes no sense” moments to recap here. On top of all that, the action occurs around Christmas, and use of six traditional Christmas songs adds to the twisted humor that will probably keep you tuned in, despite your knowing better.
Available On Demand now. In theaters on Feb. 27.
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