2018 | DIR. PASHA PATRIKI | REVIEW BY SHAUN CRAWFORD.
It sees Wheeler (JCVD) awakens in a black-site submarine, a place where baddies can take prisoners and torture them away from anything resembling law or ethics, he discovers he’s being accused of being in possession of a top-secret dongle containing top-secret information that top-secret guys want. Problem is, Wheeler genuinely doesn’t have the data and now he’s trapped 30,000 leagues under the sea on a submarine fighting for his life.
Along the way he befriends fellow prisoner, Marco (Dolph Lundgren) a mysterious German man-mountain who steals the show as well as new-fish CIA agent Cass (Jasmine Waltz) and her pal Ellis (Aaron O’Connell) who contribute to the plot next to nothing squared. Cue 105-unimaginative-mins of close-quarters gun-fire in the, surprisingly and inexplicably spacious, submarine.
Penned by DTV-action stalwart Chad Law (6 Bullets, Jarhead 3, Drive Hard), BLACK WATER takes its fair share of cues from Mikael Hafstrom’s 2013 80s throwback actioneer ESCAPE PLAN. Cashing in on the fading star of the Regan-era action films, BLACK WATER’s script isn’t self-aware enough to make the viewer giddy with nostalgia nor imaginative enough to tread new ground. Instead it has a couple of decent exposition-as-ammunition exchanges and one or two moments of genuinely interesting character moments but it’s hard to shake that sinking feeling.
Serial box-jawed Lundgren is sorely under-utilized and doesn’t pull his weight nor grace us with his presence (or justify his second bill on the credits) until the third act which leaves Van Dammage to carry the lions share which he does by making the curious decision of playing the whole film looking confused and thirsty.
Jasmine Waltz sticks around and let’s her unconvincing wardrobe (do Special Ops always rock around in skivvies?) and fake-eyelashes do the acting for her.
Cinematographer-turned-Director Pasha Patriki’s debut, while capable at telling a coherent story (albeit, one devoid of anything resembling originality or irony) is sorely lacking the confident hand needed in guiding the film’s pace and visual flair. As a result BLACK WATER is a sluggish B-movie that overstays it’s welcome BUT 15-minutes or so all the while never delivering a single spark of wit.
While not as tragic as some of its stars previous efforts (*cough*AGENT RED*cough*THE ORDER*cough*) it certainly doesn’t scale to the heights of entries like UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING or THE EXPENDABLES 2.
The cast will justify the viewing by action junkies but they’ll likely be left disappointed.