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Review: Uwe Boll Cross-Breeds ‘Taxi Driver’ With The Occupy Movement In Tone-Deaf ‘Assault On Wall Street’

Review: Uwe Boll Cross-Breeds 'Taxi Driver' With The Occupy Movement In Tone-Deaf 'Assault On Wall Street'

It’s time to stop treating Uwe
like some once-in-a-lifetime nightmare behind the camera, and to start acknowledging
that he’s just another substandard genre filmmaker. He’s Lucio Fulci without
the aesthetics and kinky fetishes, Takashi Miike without the profane poetry,
Roger Corman without the imagination or generosity. No longer do you need to
say, “Oh, I have GOT to see the newest Uwe Boll movie, that guy is terrible!”
No, Boll’s talents and skillset have improved to the point where the
gotta-see-it appeal of his earlier mistakes has hardened into a pragmatic, dull
sensibility, allowing his output to become a cottage industry of annual releases
set to be engulfed by the pit of Netflix Streaming before falling into
oblivion. The sensationalist documentary about Boll’s career that we all
envisioned would likely have run out of things to say about the filmmaker
before we reached the deadening 99%-er vigilante drama “Assault On Wall Street.”

Does Dominic Purcell know his
face is crying? The lumbering, ineffectual brute is an absolute zombie in the
lead role of security guard Jim Baxford, who logs long hours in order to
provide for his dying wife (Erin Karpluk). But most of his time is spent on the
phone with healthcare providers and insurance sharks, haggling over premiums
and regulations as the treatments do not take. His only relief is from frequent
lunches with co-worker Sean (Edward Furlong) and cops Freddy and Frank (Keith
, Michael Pare). This murderer’s row of gone-to-seed character actors
represents the height of this film’s professionalism, as all struggle mightily
to imply a long-lasting mutual friendship, despite Baxford’s sunken eyes and
humorless expressions. Pare has shown a surprising presence in a number of
direct-to-DVD films, and David remains a formidable thespian at home in
believable dramas or larger-than-life genre parts. Furlong, well… it’s nice
that he’s staying out of trouble.

A meeting with a financial
advisor played by Lochlyn Munro (of course it’s Lochlyn Munro) leads to the
reveal that Baxford, like many American citizens, trusted the wrong people to
make the wrong investments with his cash. Suddenly, he’s broke as his wife is
about to enter an experimental treatment, and even legal action provides a
dead-end: Baxford’s brief flirtation with a fast-talking lawyer (Eric Roberts
channeling James Woods) leads to an accumulation of unworkable fees, and the
blind hope of a class action suit in the distant future.

Boll has long been discussing a
documentary he had planned about the financial collapse and corruption of Wall
Street, though he appears to have funneled his efforts into this film, which is
loaded with soundbites, YouTube videos and buzzwords co-opted by the Occupy
movement. Boll’s done his research, as he seems desperate to share every single
way common citizens have been screwed by the foolhardy investments of
quota-filling investors, and to his credit “Assault On Wall Street” feels like
an angry film, with none of the trademark Boll gags or satirical elements. It
also results in a padded runtime filled with scenes of characters sighing as
relevant news reports buzz on the television sets. Boll is also jazzed to be
shooting on location in New York City, and he seems to have exploited every
single second of coverage involving Baxford crossing streets, riding subways,
and making his final, fatal trip to Wall Street. Removing every shot of Purcell’s
dull-puppy expressions as he stares into the Hudson, or against a fleet of
skyscrapers, would turn this into a short film.

What’s obnoxious is that it’s
never in doubt where “Assault On Wall Street” is headed, and it seems to
believe there’s a certain poetry to taking its time turning Baxford into a
non-verbal Travis Bickle. By the time Baxford is buying guns off the street
from Clint Howard (of course it’s Clint Howard!), there’s still a massive wait
before what’s supposed to be a cathartic bloodbath. Boll doesn’t disappoint in
that regard, revealing his charming bad taste in a techno-scored massacre where
our lone gunman is the hero, punctuating the rage of the 99% crowd with
bullets. To say this sort of thing is unfortunately topical is a cowardly way
of saying that there’s never ever been a good time for this sort of picture
with this type of moral outlook. But the age of being offended by this sort of
thing might also be long-gone: the only question on viewers’ minds during the
film’s violent climax is how exactly Boll was able to get so much shoddy
footage on location. [D-]

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