“Comedy is tragedy plus time,” Alan Alda shares in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors while revealing that anything – including the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – is fair game for jokes. From pain often springs comedy or humor as a weapon of self-defense so is it any wonder that comedians are often described as hostile and so many comics wind up disclosing the most horrific childhood stories on Barbara Walters' couch?
Usually this aggressive attitude is channeled in the pursuit of the almighty audience as to stand-up comics, failing to elicit laughter is “bombing” and leaving them rolling in the aisles is “killing.” However, taking this mentality several steps further, some of America's hippest comics including Zach Galifianakis, Rob Corddry and Bob Odenkirk joined forces to truly “kill” as ruthless psychopathic government operatives in director Fouad Mikati's mirthless movie.
Taking its title from a real political plan implemented under the Office of Homeland Security to detain and deport both suspected terrorists by 2012 yet given an all-important colon to break up the term and give it a more action movie feel, the work initially dazzles with its intricate set-up as we follow a new operative who joins forces with one of two rival teams of deep undercover government assassins working side-by-side in a top-secret underground facility.
Despite the fact that these two agencies are housed next to one another as a sort of odd system of checks and balances to counter the movements of the other group makes about as much sense as the decision that everyone is assigned a code name from a deck of Tarot cards, we're willing to go with it for the time being because we assume that bigger twists will be revealed.
It's a beautiful bluff wherein the joke turns out to be on us as given the ridiculous amount of talented performers cast in the project coupled with the pseudo-intellectual setting of President Obama's inauguration and George W. Bush's last day in office as we keep assuming that what we're watching is going to develop into an action packed politically allegorical disaster.
Unfortunately all that follows in the film is an all-around bloody disaster, after the organization's head – Jeffrey Tambor's “Devil” is killed. Yet just before he clocked out, he managed to trigger a fail safe plan that will leave everyone dead by the end of their shift.
To avoid the impending doom, the groups split up Clue style in pairs of two consisting of one team member from both sides until they're able to track down the murderer among them and find an escape route. Yet instead of stopping the body count, the violent madmen and women end up adding to it exponentially by using any and all office supplies at their disposal to dispose of the people with whom they're supposed to be hunting the main madman.
And while I can only hope that Brian Watanabe's original screenplay used its rather ingenious set-up far more effectively than is evidenced in this work penned by Sam Levinson, ultimately Fouad Mikati's Endgame is an endlessly ridiculous, outrageously violent, gleefully nihilistic and completely nonsensical send-up of Guy Ritchie's oeuvre.
Obviously it's sure to earn a greater channel surfing stop-and-look audience given the wide range of the ensemble cast that also consists of Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin, Joe Anderson and Ving Rhames. However, this already short eighty-two minute fiasco overstays its welcome less than twenty minutes in as Corddry seems to have been hired simply to insult every other character in the filthiest way imaginable like he's testing out material even Andrew Dice Clay wouldn't use at a Comedy Central hosted roast.
And in the end this abrasive movie just isn't funny enough to play as a comedy or exciting enough to work as an action film as despite a few good twists, this uneven work hits us with more mood swings than you can control with the world's biggest pharmacy... even though at times you wonder what the filmmakers were on from conception to post-production.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.