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7 Seconds (July 2/05)

Given that needlessly violent, politically incorrect action flicks have been banished from theaters, the only place to find such films nowadays is on video. Deposed superstars of the genre such as Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme are currently making a comfortable living churning out straight-to-DVD knock-offs of their '80s successes, and it's becoming more and more acceptable for actual celebrities to augment their Hollywood paychecks with appearances in similar fare. With films such as Liberty Stands Still and last year's Unstoppable under his belt, Wesley Snipes is offering Seagal and Van Damme some real competition in the action arena.

In 7 Seconds, Snipes plays Jack Tolliver - a master thief whose latest gig should net each member of his team a cool $3 million. Problems emerge when a rival gang shows up at the same time to steal a priceless Van Gogh painting that's aboard one of the armored trucks, resulting in a firefight that leaves most of Jack's team dead. Jack manages to escape with the painting, but not before one of his colleagues is taken hostage. Now, Jack must team up with a tenacious NATO military cop (played by Tamzin Outhwaite) and rescue his kidnapped cohort.

Though the film opens with an action sequence that's virtually incoherent due to director Simon Fellows' overcranked sense of style, the remainder of 7 Seconds features a number of genuinely exciting instances of violence. Snipes proves to be extremely competent in hand-to-hand combat (either that or he's got a great stunt double), and Fellows thankfully tones down his Michael Bay-esque tendencies for such moments. Likewise, there are a couple of car chases that are exhilaratingly over-the-top (ie cars explode immediately upon impact, no matter how minor). And, of course, because this is a crime film set in Europe, there's the requisite scene in which the hero must meet up with some thugs in the poorly lit backroom of a garish night club.

Unfortunately, everything in between the action is extremely routine - a problem that's exacerbated by some sloppy screenwriting (ie after depositing the painting in a bus-station locker, Jack mutters to himself, "bargaining chip"). Still, Snipes' engaging and effective performance ensures that 7 Seconds generally remains watchable - even through the film's more superfluous and familiar moments.

out of

About the DVD: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents 7 Seconds with a crisp letterboxed transfer, along with a series of bonus trailers and promotional spots (trailers: Layer Cake and XXX: Director's Cut; promotional spots: Monster Garage and Rescue Me).
© David Nusair