“Arsenal” | Movie Review

timthumbGrade (D+)

To many levels of ‘trying too hard’ are put on display to make this one very entertaining. 

Now, I’ll be honest, I love B-movies. There is some feel of the unknown about them, they can deliver some surprise performances, or even create some unique film techniques. The problem is they are often a B-movies for a reason, and routinely will fail to entertain.

“Arsenal” stars; Adrian Grenier, Johnathon Schaech, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and is directed by Steven C. Miller.

The story follows a pair of brothers who really only had one another growing up. The older brother Mikey seems to be unable to get out of his own way, and has found himself in trouble routinely throughout his career as a petty criminal. The younger brother JP, has a wife and kid, owns his own construction business, and has his life on track. When Mikey is kidnapped by a local mobster, little brother JP must piece together some ransom money. And risk his life, and the safety of his own family, to save his older brother, that was much more like a father to him.

On paper this is a solid cast. Regardless of whether or not Cage and Cusack have lived in the direct-to-video category for the better have of a decade, there was still some hope they could make this a fun movie to watch. And sure, big names in a films like this, will most likely be a glorified cameos, or small side characters at best.

But the additions of Grenier and Schaech still showed some potential. Grenier made a name for himself in “Entourage” and Schaech has played several solid characters on endless amount of television shows. So, despite the routine story-line, I was interested in what this movie would deliver.

© Lionsgate Premiere

In the end the result was a mundane, completely forgettable crime-drama. One that took pieces of other films and slapped it into one, honestly laughable story. Now the film wasn’t horrible, the story was one that has been done to no end, but the performances of Grenier and Schaech carried the run-time as much as possible.

The problem was it told an overly normal story, with a been-there-done-that tone. But then splashed in were odd moments that made it look like it something that was trying to be over-the-top, or extra stylized. The film would progress normally and when a gun-fight or fist fight would start up, the frame rate would drop significantly, working in slow-motion bullet strikes like we’ve seen in “Dreed” or many other movies.

Added with an over-saturation of the color, the result was a distracting combination. To muddle these scenes up further, they up the ante of excess, with mass amounts of exaggerated blood, and a musical score that tried to be imposing, or eerie with its tone, that only resulted in scenes that screamed, ‘trying too hard’.

© Lionsgate Premiere

Also, if you want to be a criminal, be one in Biloxi Mississippi. Apparently, there are no cops there, something this script routinely forces on you to account for the lack of any real law enforcement of any kind. Except for John Cusack who was only a cop according to the badge he had on, given he had no backdrop and did no police work other than protect and serve as this stories exposition machine. Well, that and looking like a burnt-out Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice.

But really, there were no cops anywhere to be found, as people are walking around in public with guns, having car chases in public, destroying property. Which was usually capped off in the following scenes where someone would mumble, “the cops aren’t going to do shit to help you. You’re on your own.”

Now as for Nicolas Cage, who is this one, was more like a demented matador with a bad nose job. It looked like he was trying to create and eccentric personality that in the end was nothing more than laughable. As for the story. It wasn’t horrible but not very ambitious, it follows all the routine stops for the genre, and is plagued with a couple large plot-holes.

This was just not a very good movie, it lacked its own ambition, and the substance needed to make it a compelling story. Also, the handheld camera techniques used at times, were not very well done. Which is unfortunate given there were a couple solid performances from Adrian Grenier and Johnathon Schaech.

“Arsenal” is not very recommendable, unless you want to watch something while you are cleaning out your email inbox, or taking a nap.