Judgment Night (Review)

Ha! Piven didn't even make the poster.

Ha! Piven didn’t even make the poster.

How cutting edge is this!?! In an attempt to stay relevant I am reviewing a 16 year old film that sold approximately zero tickets starring a bunch of guys that would probably be happier if this wasn’t on their resume.

The plot itself is quite a basic formula, a bunch of old friends plan a dude’s night out to a boxing match, but as they are running late they take a shortcut through what the media would call an “urban area” and things don’t go according to plan from there.

What I enjoyed about the set up is where the party bus gets stuck in the mother of all traffic jams, eight lanes in both directions completely at a standstill, and the characters have enough time get into a road rage incident and then have a leisurely chat afterwards before getting back on the bus and cruising onwards.

The four characters:

Frank – Former hellraiser turned family man. (Emilio Estevez in between Mighty Ducks movies.)

John – Frank’s younger brother. Impetuous and quick tempered. (Stephen Dorff trying to look menacing and edgy, while remaining pretty.)

Mike – Cool guy, bit of a ladie’s man. (Cuba Gooding Jr pre Oscar and his subsequent career tailspin. I though an Oscar improved your career?)

Ray – The quick talking dodgy mate. Unreliable and more bluster and bravado than bravery. (Jeremy Piven with wayyyy more hair than he has now.)

Everyone has a Ray mate, the guy that talks a great game and has the most amazing adventures when no-one he knows is around. They’re amusing enough to have around as long as you understand that you can never truly rely on them and that they will sell you out in a heartbeat if it benefits them even a little. The key to co-existing with a Ray is knowing in advance that from time to time you will feel the urge to mutilate them with something, but being smart enough to ignore their repeated and expected transgressions. Or cut them off and move on with new friends. It’s your call but make it early to avoid going insane.

Probably related to the above paragraph. I hate Jeremy Piven. I just find him annoying and terribly overrated. In my opinion he is just another actor who struck lucky with one role (Entourage) and rode the wave long enough that people just accepted him.

Half an hour in, enter Denis Leary as Fallon, but I’ll call him Denis because that’s who he is no matter what role he plays, and because he is a bit of an “Asshole” (his song, not mine) he is better suited to the role of the bad guy or anti hero. This is why he is great in this (and especially “The Ref“). It’s a double standard, but you whinge when an actor plays the same role over and over and never tests them self by branching out, others like Denis should stick to what they know.

Anyway Denis’s first act is to kill someone in the middle of the road, under a streetlight, after a discussion, knowing full well that he is being watched. Sounds a bit dumb doesn’t it? but as the plot doesn’t advance sometimes without dumb stuff happening let’s move on. Want more dumb? How about the fact that Denis and gang go door to door trying to find the guys, without masks and toting guns?

The last hour has a lot of running and chasing, which Denis the famed smoker must have enjoyed. The guys hide, then run, then hide, then run, with Denis walking around talking loudly and demanding they hand themselves over. One dialogue scene between the gang plays exactly like a music video and stands out primarily for how different it is to the rest of the film.

It’s a pretty run of the mill action pic, and would be OK only as a late night brain-turned-off flick. Would have benefitted from being say 10 or 15 minutes shorter as run/hide/run/hide gets old quick and when none of the characters are especially likeable it doesn’t matter which order they die in. There isn’t much of anything that stands out aside from Denis as Fallon, the violence is paint by numbers, the laughs rare and the death scenes boringly predictable and not that inventive.

If this doesn’t sound much like a recommendation it is because it really isn’t.

The soundtrack on the other hand is 50% great, 50% filler. I have owned it since this movie was released and drag it out every now and then, as long as you fast forward judiciously there are three absolute classic tracks to be found in collaborations between House of Pain/Helmet, Faith No More/Boo-Ya Tribe and De La Soul/Teenage Fanclub.

Final Rating – 6.5 /10. Not particularly bad, but there is a reason that a lot of 15 year old films are hard to find on DVD, they just aren’t particularly good.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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