Two Action Films from Sony
Connors' War (November 8/06)
Connors' War casts former Naughty by Nature rapper Anthony "Treach" Criss as Connors, an expert CIA agent who loses his sight after looking directly into a blast while on a dangerous assignment. Three years later, Connors has become a stereotypical washout - he's a drunk and he lives on a houseboat - but redemption arrives in the form of an experimental new serum that promises to restore his vision. Directed by Nick Castle and written by D. Kyle Johnson, Connors' War is a typically pointless and thoroughly tedious actioner that has little to offer even the most enthusiastic fan of the genre. The eye-rollingly obvious storyline and overall lack of violence certainly doesn't help matters, nor does the exceedingly low-rent vibe that's been hard-wired into virtually every aspect of the film's production. Johnson's egregiously idiotic screenplay is rife with ridiculous (and lazy) instances of plotting - ie a baddie divulges his location to Connors by jingling some coins in his pocket, repeating a move from earlier in the film - and although Criss does show some potential as a performer, his efforts to step into the shoes of a blind character are laughable. While Connors' War certainly isn't as flat-out terrible as some of its shoot-'em-up brethren (see below), the movie's inability to deliver even momentary thrills ensures that most viewers will be left shaking their fists in frustration.
Submerged (November 9/06)
Submerged marks a huge step backwards for erstwhile action star Steven Seagal, whose past few direct-to-video efforts (including Today You Die and Black Dawn) were actually kind of decent - albeit in a lowered-expectations sort of way. But Submerged - with its needlessly cluttered, flat-out nonsensical screenplay and uncomfortably flashy visual style - strikes all the wrong notes right from the get-go, to the extent that one can't help but wonder just which demographic the film was trying to reach (certainly not Seagal's remaining fans, who'll be turned off by the lack of hand-to-hand combat). The ridiculously convoluted plot plot revolves around a group of tough-as-nails mercenaries (led by Seagal) and their efforts to take down a mad scientist who's been busy transforming soldiers into mindless assassins. That's the abbreviated version; Paul de Souza and Anthony Hickox's script tosses in everything but the proverbial sink, with the end result a film that's more of a baffling ordeal than anything else. And because there are almost a dozen central characters, it's virtually impossible to genuinely care about any of these people - despite the presence of charismatic folks like Seagal and Vinnie Jones among the film's cast. The bottom line is that Submerged is just relentlessly dull, devoid of anything even resembling competence - although, admittedly, there is one semi-decent scene in which Jones caps off an incredibly savage beating by casually shooting his hapless foe in the chest.