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A BETTER WAY TO DIE is an entertaining, albeit mindless, low-budget action
film. Like many films in this direct-to-video niche, there's no rhyme or
reason to why things happen in DIE, except simply to say that things happen
because it leads to other things happening, such as the constant gunfights
and other action-related sequences.
Basically a string of shootouts and violent deaths linked together by an afterthought of a story, A BETTER WAY TO DIE is still quite entertaining. That is, if you manage to turn off your brain and realize that the reason cops never show up is because it would ruin the next upcoming gunfight.
Of note is Lou Diamond Phillips, who continues his string of Cheesy Villains in these direct-to-video action films. What has happened, Lou?
5 out of 10.
Nothing particularly unique about this movie, but it held my attention all the way through. Solid acting, direction, reasonably interesting story, good cast of characters; about the only complaint I would make is that I always felt like I was missing something. That's not specific enough to be of much use, I suppose, but it's as close as I can get to verbalizing my complaint. I give this one 6/10; watch it if you don't have anything else to do.
Scott Wiper. Scott Wiper... The name doesn't ring a bell does it?
did it to me. I was browsing my friends DVD collection and came across
little gem. On asking him what was it like he said just watch it and see.
I did and found it highly enjoyable.
Scott Wiper is a young actor, writer, producer, director and has gathered himself a cast that would be at the top of any hollywood directors wish list. Joe Pantaliano, Lou Diamond Phillips, Natasha Henstridge and Andre Braugher. All involved in this movie are showing the acting talents that they are capable and are clearly having fun and this fun exerts itself over the viewer.
Scott Wiper is Boomer, a chicago cop, who becomes disenchanted with the big city life after a bust. He embarks on a road trip to get to former girlfriend, who still loves him, in the picturesque village of Cedar Falls. Then all hell breaks loss...
This film is notable for a few things. Wiper as lead actor, writer, and director, Joe Pantaliano in a typically strong performance as a bizarre one-armed detective named Flash, and how wiper has managed to create a movie that looks big budget on an obviously low budget. The fantastic locals and the brilliant action scenes hint at a director who could accomplish big things given the time and the money.
At times i was thinking that Boomer's day couldn't get any worse but this helps us in feeling more sympathetic towards him in his quest to get home.
Finally i highly enjoyed this movie and would recommend it to any self respecting fan of the action genre. A definate winner 8.5!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I personally thought this was much better than just an action film to
satisfy the gun -hungry. It has the plot of a road movie, where the hero
gets into one scrape after another, off which the writer / director can
a plethora of quirky characters (the one-armed Flash, Karmic Hitman Andre
Braugher) and incidents (an escape down a just-used dunny, a Carrie-like
re-appearance), and with, as the ultimate goal, a reconciliation with his
ex-girlfriend, the utterly gorgeous Natasha Henstridge. The driving force
this odyssey is the search for missing FBI agent Harry, in this case James
and not Lime.
There is a certain dream-like quality to the whole film, similar, say, to `After Hours', and particularly Point Blank. In fact, at times I thought perhaps he was actually shot at the start, and the subsequent events were thoughts paralleling the path of the bullet through his brain. There is a Twilight Zone based on an Ambrose Bierce short story that does exactly that (during a hanging). Thus, a better way to die than the reality of being shot in an alley - being dispatched at the end of a spiraling sequence of events leading to an inevitable showdown. It doesn't look like the sort of film where the director was made to change the ending, but I'd have preferred him shot at the end, to complete the circle. A shame Flash died quite so quickly, as well.
I was pleasantly surprised with this flick, as it looked like a typical and
un-original action film whereas it turned out to be fairly original and
extremely entertaining. The central character is called "Boomer" and is
played by Scott Wiper who is a very talented actor, director and writer and
it seemed as though he put a lot of thought and effort into this movie,
which really pays off.
The opening scene is one of the best i've seen for a long time and is
obviously influenced by the 'Quentin Tarantino' style of writing and
film-making...which of course is a good thing. I was also surprised at the
strength of the cast, which includes such hollywood names as Lou Diamond
Phillips, Joe Pantoliano, Natasha Henstridge and Andre Braugher.
The highlight of this film has to be Andre Braugher's character 'Cleveland'. Cleveland is a fairly complex character and quite humerous, he's an assassin with a good heart and really makes the film much more entertaining (as do most of the characters). However, I was quite disappointed with some of this film as the big names such as Natasha Henstridge and Joe Pantoliano hardly get any screen time and I was very disappointed as I thought these actors/actresses would be significant characters, which they weren't. All in all 'A Better Way To Die" is an extremely entertaining action flick which takes you on a roller-coaster ride of action and surprises.
I can see how this film could be tossed into the Violent Action or
confusingly written low budget categories, but I found it to be a cut
or more above those types of films because of its feel. It seemed to me
more like a long waking nightmare than an action yarn. It was personal.
Where Dirty Harry or Arnold type films tend to try to inject societal
relevance, this is about what is happening to one lone guy's little
world. It seems to start the usual way in the big city, but the road
trip begins immediately after the cops vs bad guy shootout. Then it is
just him against the darker side of the world.
Odd to say it, but it had elements in it of a gentle, thoughtful road film like Wild Strawberries. But these gentle experiences were incessantly subverted by the nightmarish downward spiral that was this day or so in the life of the antihero lead. Dr. Borg could not find an experience or place that could distract him for long from his regrets. Boomer's problems were less existential. He could not find a safe place, even to sleep. One thing led to another and every time it couldn't get worse it did. Sustaining that through the length of the film in writing and directing is quite an accomplishment and it all goes to Wiper. The other actors did a sturdy to inspired job of playing it on the money and not ruining the vibe.
I think of it as a Film Noir and it reminds me of an Edmond O'Brien character running afoul of Communist spies and their thugs. Constantly on the run, both to and from, never knowing what is around the next corner.
Without giving anything away, the other element running through the film is an amazing tale of, ultimately, redemption involving Boomer and Cleveland. It is of course given the necessary weight by the usual brilliant performance by Andre Braugher.
Much of the film had a claustrophobic quality to it, another departure from a typical action film. I don't say this often, but being in black and white would have taken as much away from this film as it would have added. It is pretty darn good the way it is. And it does not remind me very much of any other film I have ever seen. It is coming from another place entirely.
When the movie started i thought that its gonna be just another one of those stupid ones where the most important thing is a car blowing up. That would be my guess but as the story developed after 15 minutes, the movie got better. A variety of good characters made it even better and a touch of humor even more. But this does not mean that things wont be blowing up. The story is also developing pretty good and it takes unexpected turns as the good guy turn bad and the bad ones turn good. The whole concept of a dude being in the wrong place at the wrong time is good and till the end you'll just be waiting for it to hit you with another new situation that you haven't seen before, nor later.
I was surprised when I saw a familiar name - Mirjana Jokovic on the tape cover of the American movie in my local video store. (I must say that she's one of the best serbian actresses). First, I suppose that it must be some good drama or comedy, but it was an action movie and it wasn't special in any way. There was a lot of blood, killings, fights, explosions in it and, of course, a fabulous blond played by Natasha Henstridge. (What kind of movie would it be if there wasn't at least one beautiful blond in it?!) Mirjana played another girl in the movie, called Jelisaveta, and she had a few lines in Serbian language. It wasn't a big role (but I guess the money was good, 'couse I can't think of any other reason for her to participate in movie like this one). You can say that the story is a littlebit uncommon (there's some mix up about who's Harry), but it's adding up to a well-known story of one INDESTRUCTIBLE man against everyone: the Mafia, police, FBI. And, of course, he must have some cool phrase, like "I'll be back" or "Noone's nervous" to follow him along the movie, and this movie is full of it. And there's no need to mention illogical and ridiculous actions and plots. The end of the movie seems to be further and further away as we're coming to it, and even the writer seems to be out of idea so we can see our hero saving himself from the burning building two times in the same way. So, while I'm thinking once again about this movie I'm coming to the conclusion that it's much more worse than "not so good movie as I've expected it to be", but maybe I have expected too much.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A Better Way to Die starts in Chicago where a cop named Boomer (writer
& director Scott Wiper) witnesses the murder of his partner Carlos
(Carmen Argenziano) during an undercover operation, he decides to leave
both Chicago & the force & head out to the sticks to be with Kelly
(Natasha Henstridge) the woman he loves. En route he finds himself
dodging bullets & fighting for his life when he is mistaken for special
agent Harrison James (Jefferson Moore) who the mob wants because of a
computer chip with informant information on it & the Government wants
him because of, well a computer chip with informant information on it.
Seemingly everyone wants him dead as he tries to work out a solution to
the situation he finds himself in...
Staring, written & directed by Scott Wiper this wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was fearing, in fact I'd go as far as to say it's a fun little action flick without ever being spectacular. The somewhat predictable & often routine action thriller script doesn't take itself too seriously & is fairly light hearted in tone, the character's are decent & the dialogue is alright even though it resorts to constant use of profanity & bad language on occasion. It moves along at a brisk pace & is never boring although the action scenes are somewhat repetitive & are a little low key, don't expect car chases & explosions every five minutes because you will be disappointed if you do. My main problem with A Better Way to Die is that every time it starts to get good the pace slackens & it never quite reaches the dizzy heights of greatness, every time it starts to get good the scene just fizzles out into nothing. The fight in the burning barn at the end & the shoot-outs are average action sequences rather than great ones & as a consequence A Better Way to Die is a touch forgettable, it's a good solid film which you can sit down in front of if it's on TV for free & waste 100 odd minutes in it's company happily enough but by the next morning you'll probably have forgotten all about it & I certainly don't think it's worth spending a lot of money on buying the DVD.
Director Wiper does a fine job here, it looks pretty nice & although the action scenes are distinctly average they are well shot & choreographed. It's just a shame about some of the poor editing during the shoot-outs, was this cut to get an 'R' rating? Is that why some of the shoot-outs look so choppy? Those outside the UK will have no idea what I'm talking about but while looking at the credits I noticed one of the producers was named Graham Taylor, I can assure everyone that it's a different Graham Taylor to the ex-manager of Watford, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers & the Graham Taylor who had a disastrous time in charge of England when The Sun likened him to a Turnip when they superimposed his face on one of the vegetables all over their paper after we lost to Sweeden! Swedes 2, Turnips 1 was the headline... Still, at least us England fans can look back on it & laugh now, then again maybe not.
Technically the film is fine, it looks nice enough with decent cinematography & production values. The action sequences could have used beefing up a bit, I mean one blown up car & a blown up shed isn't much to get that excited about. The acting is fine, although there are some fairly experienced names in the cast the likes of Lou Diamond Phillips, Natasha Henstridge & Joe Pantoliano they have very little screen time & are more cameo appearances than anything else.
A Better Way to Die is a decent little action film, it's light hearted & has decent character's & an OK story but it didn't quite reach the heights of greatness for me I'm afraid. It's also rather predictable at times & nothing that we haven't seen before. If you can catch it on TV for free then go ahead but don't spend good money on it. Good but not great.
"A Better Way to Die" is a macho little testosterone rush "sleeper" which follows a square jawed, lean and cut, sissy-voiced ex-cop as he wades through more "heavies" than a Weight Watchers convention. With two firefights even before credits, this terse action jammed drama with a sense of humor has an ever increasing body count as its rather ordinary good guys vs bad guys plot unfolds with cops, FBI, and mobsters duking it out and our reluctant hero invariably caught in between. The viewer is given a personal score to settle when the mob prematurely robs us of more vistas of Henstridge skin and good guys turn bad, bad guys turn good, bullet casings pile up, and the film waxes bloodier all the way to its conclusion. "A Better Way to Die" is best served with a sixer and big bag of chips.
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