Is the whole Uwe Boll thing over yet? Do people still give him shit for being a bad filmmaker? Well far be it from me to avoid a bandwagon, so let’s take a look at one of his more recent films! Who knows? Maybe the guy has improved in the last few years! You want to find out if he did? Then keep reading!
The movie starts, and we get the opening credits with random news clips about bands playing in the background. Honestly, it makes me think I’m about to watch one of those documentaries that try to convince us that Obama’s a secret Muslim terrorist who hates capitalism. The movie starts proper with a few guys in suits using Wall Street jargon to let us know they’re the bad guys.
They’re basically going to reenact the ending of Margin Call where people get on phones and sell worthless shit to people as fast as possible. We cut from there to our yet to be named hero (for now, I’ll call him Beefcake) at a hospital waiting for his wife (Rosie) to finish her MRI. Her brain tumors have cleared up, but she’s still having problems.
They try to schedule another visit, but the insurance company is jerking them around. I’ve gotta say that Uwe Boll’s direction here is surprisingly competent. He’s either honed his skills or is working with better people, but there is definite improvement over some of his other films. Beefcake is very easy to sympathize with considering we’ve been hearing about doctor bills driving people to finical ruin for years. The scene where the wife breaks down in bed wondering how she’s going to get treatment and even if it’s worth crippling them financially to get it is a real gut punch, and because Uwe Boll has improved, there aren’t any noticeable incompetence to pull you out of the movie.
We see Beefcake on the job, which is driving an armored truck with his friend played by Edward Furlong (seriously), where we learn that he’s a former solider on disability (not sure what kind) and that he has some money invested that he hopes will help cover the medical bills. His broker is dodging him (I wonder why) and we see him go into a diner and meets with a cop-buddy who’s played by Keith David.
Wait a minute. Hold the fucking phone. KEITH DAVID!?
Hey, if Uwe Boll is good at one thing, it’s snagging respectable actors into his shitty films. His friends repeat a lot of the anti-Wall Street talking points, tell some jokes, and let Beefcake know how awesome his wife his. Oh yeah, we find out his name is Jim. Jim doesn’t join in the conversation, but every scene in this movie is assaulting him with news casts about how shitty Wall Street is. It gets to the point where Jim and Rosie have a scene together, but the TV in the background almost drowns out what they’re saying. We get a montage where we see the two of them get further and further in debt while Rosie gets her treatments. It’s a rough scene to sit through considering that so many people have gone through similar situations, and it was just as unfair then as it is now. He finally gets his broker to meet with him, and gets some bad news about his investments.
Jim’s life is rapidly starting to spiral out of control, and there’s not a lot he can do about it. When he gets a letter saying that his investments make him liable for SIXTY GRAND (for reasons that aren’t clearly explained but you can still buy it), he does the only thing he can think of and hires a lawyer to sue the investment firm. The lawyer promises to help him out, but it’s going to cost him ten grand which seems to come as a surprise to him.
Edward Furlong tells him he’s got the money and wants to help him out, and Jim takes some time to think about it. He goes to the bank to see if he can do anything about the increased interest rates, but the guy there is about as helpful as you’d expect. Backed into a corner, he accepts the ten grand from his friend (I wouldn’t ask Mr. Furlong where he got it) and hires the lawyer. The lawyer tries to hustle him into making an uniformed decision, but holds him off for at least a little bit. He goes to the Assistant District Attorney’s office in order to get some answers about what the fuck is going on. Of course, the ADA is too damn busy to meet the little guy, and he has to leave without getting any answer despite being able to SEE the mother fucker behind a glass wall.
This first act does such a great job in building up Jim’s plight that you can’t fucking wait for him to start firing bullets. That being said, the almost constant barrage of news footage saying shit about banks is a bit too much. I find Jim’s story fascinating enough that I don’t need to be reminded that this is a message movie. Rosie finally realizes what dire straits they are in and has decided to stop getting treatments. On top of that, the bank has foreclosed on their house and the lawyer isn’t doing dick about it. Not only THAT but the debt has forced his employer to fire him (armored truck driver in debt isn’t reliable). The boss is doing the most he can for Jim (even gives him a nine thousand bonus in cash) but it’s not enough and Jim is even more fucked than he thought he could be. What they do next I feel takes this a bit too far. For a couple minutes, we get scenes back and forth of Jim riding the subway contemplating his next movie, and Rosie in the house trying to do housework but keeps breaking down crying. You can probably guess where this is headed.
I was honestly hoping that this movie would somehow have a happy ending but with a martyred wife, the only option now is for Jim to go out in a blaze of glory. They might cop out at the end and let him live, but this is the point where he’s lost all hope which makes a happy ending almost impossible. It honestly kind of takes the wind out of the Jim’s righteous anger because he’s lost in the only way that could matter to him. We’ve still got half a movie to go, so we might as well get into the action, but my enthusiasm for it has somewhat waned. We get a montage of Jim just going through life in a daze (still hasn’t gotten another job) with his friends continually leaving messages on his phone asking him to meet up with them so they can help him through this. I genuinely feel bad for the guy, but I get the feeling that this actor has only one acting technique, and that is to stare tortured and thoughtfully at the middle distance.
On one of his nightly strolls, he comes across a part where the asshole ADA is celebrating something, so Jim decides to wait outside to see if he can talk to the man alone. Oddly enough, the guy is the last one to leave so Jim finally has a chance to confront him. The confrontation turns south pretty quickly with the ADA trying to take a swing at him, which ends up with the bastard poorly edited into the path of an incoming car… that appears to have been speeding through an alley. What?
Jim runs his ass away from the crime scene, but he’s now getting some ideas. We get a montage of him watching YouTube videos as well as posting news clippings to a wall. While doing this, he’s informed that the bank is going to make good on the foreclosure, so they send this scrawny looking fucker to face our beefy hero.
Jim tells him in no uncertain terms to go fuck himself, and then prepares for what he’s going to do next. He’s gets his assault rifle (presumably a souvenir from the war) and does the one thing we’ve been waiting for him to do all movie. No wait; we get another ten minutes of him going to a hotel with a very conspicuous duffle bag in tow. Okay seriously, we’ve only got half an hour left. Don’t let me down on the action Mr. Boll! He gets a call from his friends at the diner, but blows them off. Is it to go play target practice with Wall Street creeps? Nope, he’s got to rebuild his clippings wall from his house and reread his plans. He also has to buy some more weapons from some dude in a van. Then he goes to lie in his hotel room for a while. OK, seriously movie. I’m getting tired of waiting. We know where this is going, let’s just get there already. So what does he do now? He practices with his assault rifle.
Alright, I’m just gonna tune out for a bit while you get your shit together. When everything is ready to go, let me know.
Okay, he’s finally going to take out the first dude. [is he from earlier?] He waits for him in a parking complex and shoots him while he’s going to his car.
Okay, pretty tame but enough to get this whole thing going. His next target gets to eat lead on his porch from the assault rifle which Jim aims like a fucking surgeon.
Next up? Similar circumstances. Long distance shot of the guy at his house as he’s getting out of his car.
Thus ends our first wave of killings. They alright if a little tame, but the biggest problem is that the editing is pretty annoying. For each attack, they shot about two minutes of footage. One minute of him getting there and another of him setting up and taking the shot. The problem is that for each one, they inter-cut the two pieces of footage so that one cut has him aiming down his sights, with the next cut having him sitting in a subway car, and then the cut after that having him take the shot.
After a scene of him meeting back up with his friends, he starts preparing for the next attack which appears to be much more complex. The planning in this one is actually interesting because it goes into more detail about the process. He steals a janitor’s uniform and sneaks into the firm that’s responsible for screwing him over, and gets some Intel about the building’s layout and such. I’m still a bit disappointed about the restraint this movie is showing when it comes to this section of the movie. Considering how cliché the bad guys are and how hard they were pushing Jim’s sob story, I kind of expected this to go a bit sillier. Instead, it’s trying extra hard to be gritty and realistic with Jim planning out his attacks and doing it in a quick and efficient manner. It kind of robs it of the catharsis we were expecting to get in the beginning of the film, and reminds us that this guy, no matter how justified his plight is, is ending human lives and leaving families without fathers and husbands. It gets even worse when we get a sniper scene, which are always unpleasant to sit through. Oddly enough, this seems to have nothing to do with the plan he spent the last ten minutes laying out, so maybe this was impromptu? He also ends up just walking away because no one seems to notice the very conspicuous man-bear-pig in a suit with the shifty eyes.
It turns out that that was only part one of the plan because the place he was preparing for is still full of people despite being walking (and earshot) distance from gunshots. He strolls though one floor of the building with a NOT Guy Fawkes mask on, and starts taking out people. It’s not as much fun as you’d expect, but the scene is well shot. The CG blood actually looks pretty decent, and I suspect that it’s partially practical with some CG augmentations. Once he’s done massacring the entire floor, he moves on to the next one just as SWAT arrives at the building. He gets to the office of the scum bag at the beginning of the movie, and they have a back and forth which plays out just as you’d expect.
In fact, Jim gives him a chance to save himself but the dumb bastard just starts digging his own grave.
Jim decides to take the man’s “cream rises to the top” shtick to the test by giving him a fighting chance. He places the gun on the table and says that on the count of three, they both reach for it. The Wall Street scumbag grabs it at the count of two (he cheated! METAPHOR!!!) but Jim was expecting that and the gun has no bullets. At that moment, the SWAT bursts in and takes out the scumbag, assuming he was the killer. The movie ends with Jim going free, and vowing to continue his mission to kill all the financial ass hats that have slipped through the cracks of the justice system.
So that was Assault on Wall Street. It’s not half bad, but I was pretty disappointed by it. The first half does a really good job of putting you in the right mindset to enjoy the impending siege upon the entire New York financial system, but when it’s time to deliver on that, the movie drops the ball in a major way. Considering how one dimensional and stereotypical every person in Jim’s path has been up to that point, you don’t expect them to inject a level of “realism” into the explosive finale. When I talk about “realism” I’m of course talking about how the movie takes it’s time try and explain how each of these killings work, but this fails because we never actually buy the fact that he can get away with these. The worst is the sniper scene where he just strolls past the crime scene without anyone even stopping him to get a statement. I’d be fine with that level of stupidity if the movie didn’t spend ten minutes trying to convince me that he actually thought it through. Not only that, but the big flashy killing scene is just unpleasant to sit through. The people he shoots in that scene were anonymous, and not decision makers. If Uwe Boll’s intention was to make that scene unpleasant, then more power to him. The movie just led me to believe that we would be getting something that didn’t take itself as seriously. While the tonal shift in the second half does hurt the movie, it’s still a decent film overall. Everyone around Jim does their best to either be slimy or sincere, and I even liked Jim for the most part (even if the dude only had one expression). Even though this movie is ultimately a disappointment, I’m still glad that people like Uwe Boll are out there making movies with the attitude of “Why Not?” He’s not afraid to tackle any subject matter, no matter how dark, and since his film making skills are improving, I think that soon enough he’ll be considered a legend among exploitation directors, instead of just their punching bag. Until then though, this is an okay film that might be worth watching if you’re into bad movies or are curious about Mr. Boll.