DVD Review: Far Cry (2008)

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In addition to simply being a funny word to let roll off your tongue, the concept of buzz—especially when it comes to the movie business—can prove to be quite a double-edged sword and one that cuts even deeper when the buzz is exceedingly positive. It’s safe to say that we’ve all had that uniquely disappointing experience of endless buzz about what we were promised was the “motion picture event of the year," only to discover that we were faced with Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight.

However, one of the most peculiar results of the worst buzz imaginable is that we’re far more interested to check a film out convinced that something couldn’t possibly be as horrific as what we’ve heard. Why this phenomenon of morbid curiosity exists is beyond me but one possibility would be to achieve cathartic adrenaline that we “made it” which mirrors the way that citizens will get into a car crash by turning their head to watch another car crash. Or perhaps it’s catharsis of a reassuring kind as we’d rather feel satisfied by our agreement with the mainstream that (insert any title here) sucks rather than be ostracized as the only person in the world who didn’t get why (insert any title here) was deemed a brilliant film. However, while I can’t explain it, I can at least acknowledge that if something is universally hated, more people will want to understand why than those who want to see the movie that’s universally beloved… because I feel the exact same way myself.

From the films of Ed Wood to the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez vehicle Gigli, I’ve always been intrigued by such dramatic reactions but post-Gigli, the one target that’s been repeatedly attacked by fanboys online isn’t just one movie but the entire career of a man named Uwe Boll. The stories about Boll’s work as well as his challenge to box critics who gave him negative reviews were the stuff of online legend. And in fact, they scared me enough from accepting the opportunity to interview him for fear he may hit a girl... because the way individuals rant on message boards and websites make it seem as though Ed Wood is Orson Welles when it comes to Uwe Boll.

"How bad could he really be?" It was with this thought that I realized I was already a goner and that curiosity had taken hold. I began wondering if there was another agenda for the Boll hatred since his work has primarily consisted of adapting video games to the big-screen which is bound to send gamer purists into a tizzy. Then after watching his videotaped Razzie acceptance speech, more question marks filled my head, wondering if just enjoyed making horrible movies as a big joke.

Although I’d never seen any of his movies until now-- despite the fact that one or two of the plots I read about actually sounded promising (I'm secure enough to admit it)-- this time when the chance to tackle this particular Boll came around again, I dared to play catch. For, when it came to both Boll as well as the video game upon which Far Cry was based, I was an ideal critical candidate as I had zero expectations whatsoever with either... other than an interest in checking out Inglourious Basterds and One Way actor Til Schweiger in another role.

And sure enough as it turns out, watching Far Cry with absolutely zero expectations (or deep down the hope that maybe the naysayers were wrong) is the only way to attempt such a feat. Yes, Virginia, Boll's cinematic decisions truly are that horrible. Although in retrospect, watching Boll’s film prior to an even worse, amateurish studio screener in the action genre did make me appreciate Boll’s skills when it came to his CG effects and technical precision... it was still not enough to look past the fact that everything else was awful.

Despite its succinct 95 minute running time, the abysmal script which amazingly took three people to ruin celebrates nearly every action movie cliché in the book both in dialogue and plot. The film centers on retired Special Forces soldier, Jack Carver (Schweiger) who finds himself called to duty one more time when the journalist niece (Emmanuelle Vaugier) of a former colleague hires him under the guise of his trade as a tourist boat captain before informing him she’s hot on the trail of a secretive and deadly military testing facility in the Pacific Northwest.

Uncovering a major conspiracy involving genetically altered super-soldiers who can’t be stopped, Jack and Vaugnier’s Valerie end up risking their lives, while still making time for some cheesy flirtation in their attempt to escape from the island run by mad scientist Dr. Kreiger (Udo Kier) and put an end to the amoral freak show.

Although it may have been saved if it was just a straight, flat-out action film, the clunky screenplay and bizarre directorial choices make it unbearable as witnessed early on when Boll forces actors we realize in the DVD's outtakes are actually funny to speak in the whiniest and most nasal inflections ever as though they were three year olds on the verge of a temper tantrum.

Still, it's all derived from the weak plot which wouldn't be out of place as a SpikeTV Movies for Guys presentation as generated entirely by a computer screenwriting program on auto-pilot. Whether it's pulling out the old standby of a fat guy for comic relief or taking all logic out of the very few scenes that require brains over brawn, unintentional giggles will ensue when Schweiger delivers the obligatory he-man lines that being shot is only a "scratch" just before Boll and his screenwriters aim for the style of sexual tension Nora Roberts would've scrapped in a "look the other way so I can undress and not catch hypothermia before we share our body warmth" sequence.

While I haven't completely written off Boll, again because of the "how bad could he be if he makes so damn many movies and hires good talent" question and I did find one or two in his filmography that received positive reviews in my research, overall as far as Far Cry goes, it's a Far Cry from entertaining and you may want to drop this Boll in favor of the controller needed to play the video game instead.
Uwe Boll

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FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of Far Cry to use in my evaluation but as reflected, this had absolutely no impact on my critical obligation to inform readers just how much this Boll missed the mark.