Falcon Rising (2014)


“He swore to protect by any means necessary.”

Directed by Barbarash
Starring Michael Jai White, Neal McDonough, Laila Ali

Marine with PTSD John Chapman (White) is chided by his sister Cindy (Ali) for cutting his meds, then called to Rio by an old buddy now in the diplomatic service (McDonough) after Cindy is beaten and left for dead in the favela where she was doing humanitarian work. Chapman flies down to Rio to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and his bubble gum is confiscated on the flight.

Ignoring the warnings of the detectives in charge of the case, Chapman starts nosing around, and in a matter of days has clued out enough of the favela politics (despite not speaking Portugese) to realise that Cindy had stumbled onto a Yakuza plot to steal underage girls and export them to Japan, with the detectives helping them in order to wipe out their local drug gangs.

Asses are kicked, non-accountable vigilante justice prevails and Chapman is offered a job as a government sponsored shit-kicker, codename: Falcon.

What’s wrong with it?

The film plays to the worst kind of American saviour fantasies, as Chapman violently delivers ‘justice’, including a scene in which he beats down a group of innocents, only to be forgiven by the main target of his ire because he knew Cindy and understands how Chapman feels.

The local cops are all corrupt, incompetent or too weighed down under the weight of misguided idealism to deliver the kind of kung fu retribution that leads to real social change.

The fucking Yakuza? Okay, apparently this is a thing, Brazilian Yakuza. I’m not convinced that they really operate some massive paedophile ring, but I guess it’s a crime that’s hard to sympathise with, and that’s important, because if Detective Santos (Jimmy Navaro) wasn’t into something truly grubby it would be hard to call him much worse than Chapman.

What’s right with it?

Navarro plays Santos with the pathos and consideration due to the antivillain of a far more sombre and interesting film. He wouldn’t be far out of place in Traffic.

At least the American saviour isn’t white, I guess.

How bad is it really?

Falcon Rising is… Well, to give you an idea, I have three times forgotten what it was that I actually watched after putting my daughter to bed on Friday night.

Best bit (if such there is)?

  • During a massive ‘shoot to kill’ sweep of the favela, one of Santos’ officers interrupts a pair of Yakuza kidnapping girls. Santos is forced to shoot the officer, and angrily tells the Yakuza his price is doubled, but there is real conflict in his eyes.

What’s up with…?

Falcon the Pantomime: He's behind you!
Falcon the Pantomime: He’s behind you!
  • The lack of communication? In the above scene, the situation only arises because the Yakuza decide to do some kidnapping while the police in their pay lead a massive sweep for drug dealers. What would it have cost to drop them a note and say ‘maybe kidnap some children at five?’
  • Yakuza Boss – Master of the Katana? We’re really still doing this in 2014?


Production values – Rudimentary; a lot of blood splatters in the dark. 14
Dialogue and performances – The film has no memorable lines, and if it lacks real stinkers it’s mostly because that would imply the dialogue was ever more than functional. Some of the acting is okay, especially Navarro, but mostly the best you can say is that they don’t tread on each other’s lines. 12
Plot and execution – All problems in Rio can be solved by Michael Jai White punching people. Even if they’re the wrong people it produces useful evidence and no bad feelings. 16
Randomness – Chapman wanders into the favela, sees a guy wearing his sister’s necklace, and from there on just stumbles from one chance discovery to another. 8
Waste of potential – I don’t know. This thing is being used as the launch of a franchise, which is way more than the potential suggests. On the other hand, it’s wretched and so will the rest most likely be. 9

Overall 59%


2 thoughts on “Falcon Rising (2014)”

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