Directed by Uwe Boll
Starring Til Schweiger, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Udo Kier
When boat pilot Jack Carver (Schweiger) accepts a job to ferry Val Cardinal (Vaugier) to meet her uncle and his old army buddy Max (Ralf Moeller) on an island, he finds himself facing off against an army of mercenaries and a cadre of genetically enhanced soldiers created by the sociopathic Dr Krieger (Kier).
What’s wrong with it?
Look, I have no idea what kind of actor Til Schweiger is in German, but in English he is terrible.
Most of the rest of the cast are merely bland (even old pros Kier and Don S. Davis are clearly phoning this one in.) Vaugier (who appears to be American, despite her uncle and his army buddy being German) just about manages feisty when she’s acting against someone, but her reaction shots are dominated by the old favourite, dull surprise. Likewise, Polish actress Natalia Avelon lacks the presence and menace to carry off her role as Krieger’s ice queen henchling. Overall, Chris Coppola as the largely irrelevant, shrieking comic relief is practically the only guy emoting at all, and I just wanted him to stop.
With such a disinterested cast, it can hardly come as a huge surprise that the film is not exactly gripping.
As is common in Boll’s movies, he shows that he knows how to use many of the dramatic tropes from the filmmaker’s toolbox, but not when to use them. The film’s most successful set piece ends with a barnstorming escape, but is so placed that it is inconvenient for Jack to actually get away, so the escape is immediately reversed, effectively cock-blocking the film’s one moment of genuine catharsis.
What’s right with it?
For an Uwe Boll movie based on a computer game, Far Cry is surprisingly close to the plot of the original, although the same can not be said of the protagonist’s look. Of course, I say this with only a passing knowledge of the game, and the superficial closeness could cover a fundamental failure to ‘get’ the source material.
As poor as most of the acting (and writing) is, there is something endearingly awkward in the scene where Jack and Val do the ‘shared bodyheat’ thing. Maybe it’s the way Schweiger does the ‘cold floor’ tiptoe or clutches the blankets to his neck.
How bad is it really?
Uwe Boll has a reputation for being the absolute pits, but as with In the Name of the King (as opposed to, say In the Name of the King 2), Far Cry is damned more by a lack of redeeming features than by any active flaw. It’s not so much that it is bad, as that it is utterly and unrepentantly not good.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The film’s central set-piece is a boat chase, in which some actual tension is generated. It also lovingly recreates the source genre, with Jack shooting a stack of barrels to bring them down and block the pursuing boats, before finally driving the boat up a ramp to make his escape.
What’s up with…?
- The Government’s apparent lack of oversight? Krieger has created eight prototype supersoldiers and tested one of them on his own men, while the government seem not to have asked for so much as a status update until the site inspection comes around.
- The ice queen’s people skills? She guns down one of her own mercs for backtalking her, and apparently this solves all the HR problems involved in allowing ten other mercs to be slaughtered by the prototypes, and yet there is no reason that the rest of the squad don’t just walk. Also, the army types who seem to be official government issue barely seem to bat an eyelid. The whole set up on the island is actually pretty nonsensical, and to have been overly engineered to produce a larger gunfight at the end of the film.
Production values – With the ‘no wound shown as caused’ principle in full effect, the film really only has a couple of explosions going for it in the effects department. There’s a shiny lab set, but it’s pretty anonymous and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it show up in another movie. The exteriors are a disused lumber mill, probably in British Columbia, and there is no attempt to disguise this fact. It’s openly referred to as ‘the Mill,’ but acknowledging your flaws does not make them go away. 16
Dialogue and performances – Oh, sweet merciful crap, this is bargain basement stuff, with almost nothing to mark it out except a lame ‘you owe me a…’ running gag and a bit where Val marks Jack 2/10 after they have sex. But, you know… I guess there’s that. 14
Plot and execution – The plot is very basic, but handled badly, hence the action sequences that actually fail to make the rest of the movie match up. 15
Randomness – The film is basically consistent, almost to the point of being flat. There’s a door that conveniently opens itself, and for no readily apparent reason Krieger uses a painting canvas instead of a computer to store his biochemical data, but that’s about it. 7
Waste of potential – I have heard strong things about the story of Far Cry, and this is a pretty by-the-numbers island adventure, so there’s probably a trick or two been missed. In addition, it could be a much better action film with just a little more effort. 13