Dobermann (1997)

Reviewed by Mant

    The Doberman is the leader of a gang of bank robbers, we start of with his christening and his namesake dog barking and attacking his uncle so a gun ends up in his pram. Cut forward past some bad CGI credits and we have him and his deaf Gypsy girlfriend (at least the back of the DVD says she is a Gypsy, it was never mentioned in the film) holding up an armoured car with a ridiculous rocket firing gun.
    We then get to see his gang, and the police who are observing them. The police are basically some goon, good cop, and totally evil cop. Evil cop beats up witnesses and gets called a Nazi, plus he smokes, must be evil right? Anyway he is being investigated, so isn't on the case.
    Good cop reckons the gang are going to pull a job, and they do. They set of decoys around Paris to confuse the cops, but the good cop still gets to the bank. Here two of the crew have been left behind by Doberman, for NO REASON AT ALL, and covered by a sniper. A cop gets killed, good cop gets beaten up and Doberman zooms back to pick them up, after killing another cop by sticking a hand grenade with worlds longest timer into his motorbike helmet. Why they didn't leave earlier is never explained.
    Evil cop takes over the investigation, watches a girl get beaten up to remind us he is evil, and finds out Sophie, a transvestite hooker, is an accomplice to the gang. So he calls on him/her while he/she is visiting his/her family, dad, mum, wife and child, who think he/she is just a he (and after writing that sentence so do I) and a law student.
    Evil cop proves he is evil (because we might have forgotten) again by telling the family about Sophie, beating up the wife, giving the kid a grenade (do they sell these in the markets in Paris or something?) and generally being evil. Sophie squeals, and tells evil cop they will be at his uncle's bar that evening.
    The Doberman's crew show up, the police show up, still with kid. The mother shows up, and gets shot by evil cop. One of crew sees it and gets shot too. Then the French SWAT equivalent shows up and lots of people get shot. Apparently these are all evil cops too. Doberman makes it out, but one of his guys and his girl are caught. Evil cop shoots the guy, does some drugs then drives off with the girl to rape her (evil remember). Doberman goes after him and kills him. The other two survivors figure out Sophie ratted on them, and Sophie tells them it was for his/her baby.
    Ends with a funeral service with Sophie's wig on the cross, then Sophie and survivors get into a car (who was buried? Who cares?) and drive off, as a cross hair is seen over the car and helicopter sounds start. Hopefully this means the remaining characters are about to be killed by someone...

What is wrong with it?

    The characters. It's possible to do a protagonist who is both a bad guy and one the audience cares about, but that requires either building up some sympathy for characters, or at least making them charismatic, cool, sexy and good with the funnies. Doberman does neither, instead we get a bunch of obnoxious, largely- ugly, stupid, incompetent coke-heads as the crooks, and just about the same in the evil cop. When asked why he puts up with them Doberman says they are "the best", except they are shown to be a bunch of idiots (just compare these jokers to the professionals in Heat). My only connection to these characters was hoping they would die soon, and put me out of their misery. The only redeeming one is Sophie, who is a transvestite, arms-dealing accessory to bank robbery and murder, but does evoke some sympathy.
    Beyond that the film is schizophrenic, it can't decide if its going to try and be realistic and gritty, or over the top action and so fails to deliver in either as it stumbles around in an unsatisfying middle ground. The big fight in the bar manages to be totally dull. Doberman stands for a while with bullets whizzing around him in best 80's Arhnould style, then rolls behind the bar and everyone spends the fight shooting from cover. It sums up the mixed approach of the whole film.
    Oh yeah, and bits make no sense either.

What is right with it?

    Very little. A couple of funny moments lurking under the rest of the crap.

What's up with...?

Best bit

    The bit in the bank is quite funny, with the old lady who cannot get on the floor, and the robber called by his ex for alimony. "I can't talk now, I'm working!", "Since when did you work?".


Production Values: Pretty good, things look quite good and not to cheap apart from cruddy CGI title sequence. 7

Dialogue and Performances: Dialogue is hard to tell from the subtitles. Performances aren't bad as most of the cast manages obnoxious psycho reasonably well, but some variety would be nice. 10

Plot and Execution: The plot makes no sense, and the execution is confused and dull. 14

Randomness: Transvestite hooker drug dealers, randomly evil cops, strange bank robbing plans. Yeah, pretty random. 15

Waste of Potential: If the plot was ironed out, the criminals a bit more sympathetic or cooler and the film made its mind up for heist gone wrong or over the top action and violence it could be good. Then again, it would be a pretty different film. 16

Overall 55%

Sweepers (1999)

"He walks where other men fear."

Directed by Keoni Waxman
Starring Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Payne and Claire Stansfield

BMM Keywords: So bad it hurts, dull, incomprehensible, predictable.

    I don't think I can really say it better than the back of the DVD box, which I copy here verbatim:

    "Torn from today's headlines "SWEEPERS" is a non-stop, high-octane explosive thriller set in war-ravaged Angolia (they do in fact mean Angola). Christian Erickson (DOLPH LUNDGREN) eke's out a living by taking on all-comers in bloody and vicious, no holds barred barefist fights but is also one of the world's leading land-mine experts and is called in by the Pentagon when a super advanced A-6 land mineis utilised in a terrorist attack on a United States Senator.
    "The rebellious Erickson has no respect for authority and refuses to help, until Bomb Squad expert Michelle Flynn uncovers a sinister and far-reaching plot to ship a bulk load of the world's most deadly mines back to the USA, and begs Erickson for help in preventing a potential disaster in the USA.
    "In the interests of national security she entrusts Erickson with only the bare outlines of the plot
(as does the film, it seems), sufficient enough to grab his attention, and together they battle against overwhelming odds (three really crap South African mercenaries) as each sinister element of the conspiracy unfolds and they move ever closer to uncovering the real and totally unexpected villain behind the deadly scheme."

    Imagine my disappointment when the 'totally unexpected villain' turned out to be Bruce Payne, and not Pope John-Paul II after all.

What's wrong with it?

    Well, aside from everything the synopsis implies - although it is in fact wildly inaccurate in places, as well as grammatically pretty poor - the film is really dull. It's kind of a non-start, unleaded snoozer really. It also treats its audience as if they were abject dolts, feeling it necessary to remind us every three seconds that Erickson is fucked- up because his kid got blowed away by a landmine. The weird Angolan soundtrack is frankly scary, Bruce Payne couldn't be the unexpected villain unless you could afford to have Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken as red herrings, and the characters are all boring.
    The mine also makes no damn sense - it requires power, and can be deactivated either by a concealed lever underneath or the big-ass off switch on top, and has an immensely variable effect.

What's right with it?


How bad is it really?

    It was so dull, I'd be pressed to remember how bad it was; which can't be good.

Best bit?

    Once more, this has no real contenders in this field.

What's up with...?


Production values: Low, low prices mean low, low quality. A few explosions, but nothing to really write home about, and shoddy editing to boot. 15

Dialogue and performances: Not tooth-grindingly bad, just utterly unmemorable. 13

Plot and execution: Zero tension, zero surprises, and every crass emotional short-cut in the book. 16

Randomness: Yeah, there's some, but mostly the film is too dull to be random. The worst is the framing text, which tries to make out this is a serious political thriller about landmines. 13

Waste of potential: Any action film this dull could have been better. 15

Overall 72%


Equilibrium (2002)

Reviewed by James Holloway

"In a future where freedom is outlawed outlaws will become heroes. "

Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Starring Christian Bale, Taye Diggs, and Emily Watson

BMM Keywords: So bad it's good, Shameless Bandwagon-Jumping, Unecessary pathos and/or angst, Unacceptable pretentions , predictable.

Preston (Bale) and Partridge (Sean Bean) are Grammaton Clerics, merciless gun-fu-wielding enforcers of the brutal laws of Libria, a futuristic totalitarian state where feelings of any kind are outlawed. When Partridge turns out to be a "sense offender," some natural instinct or a series of implausible coincidences leads Preston to question his loyalty to Libria's repressive leader Father and to seek out the resistance, represented here by a pretty girl (Emily Watson) and a cute widdle puppy, believably portrayed by a cute widdle puppy. Can Preston conceal his feelings from his dedicated new parter Brandt (Taye Diggs) long enough to uncover the secret at the heart of Libria? And who gives a crap?

What's wrong with it?

    Have you read 1984 and/or Fahrenheit 451? Have you by any chance also seen The Matrix? Then you have pretty much seen this movie. The difference is that the totalitarian state of 1984 was chillingly plausible; this one is just totally absurd. No one's allowed to have feelings? And the way to ensure that is to make them live in really highly designed futurist-looking buildings? I don't get it.

What's right with it?

    Grammaton Clerics battle sense-offenders using a weird ballistic martial art, referred to here as "gun fu." The gun fu scenes are really pretty cool to watch.

How bad is it really?

    It's just the relentless, in-your-face stupidity of the film that makes it bad. The screenplay's sentimental foolishness would shame a 15-year-old, with the possible exception of a cool scene in which resistance members led by Jurgen (William Fichtner) risk their lives to bring down the system.

Best bit?

    Preston is trying to hide the cute widdle puppy from the bad mens. But the little tyke just keeps barking, so Preston has to murder about a dozen guys in order to prevent it being discovered.

What's up with...?


Production values: Not too bad. Some special effects are less than totally convincing, but it's obvious some money was spent. 7

Dialogue and performances: Ignorant thud and blunder dialogue, carried out with a good attempt at a straight face. 13

Plot and execution: Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. 18

Randomness: A certain amount, especially in the silly details of the futuristic society. 15

Waste of potential: Exactly what you'd expect from a concept this brain dead. 10

Overall 63%