In Christian Duguay's THE ART OF WAR, it's death by noise. No, not the
characters' deaths, yours. With its explosive sound effects and Normand
Corbeil's bombastic score, the film is an Excedrin headache for viewers.
Wesley Snipes (BLADE) works in a covert UN operation so tough that it would
make the CIA envious. (Bet you didn't even know that the UN had a secret
operation.) A high-ranking Chinese diplomat is assassinated on the eve of a
big trade agreement, so Snipes, as agent Shaw, goes into action. The
generic plot isn't important as it just provides the pretext for lots of
fighting and gore. The high-kicking Snipes looks like a black Jet Li
auditioning to be the next James Bond. The picture itself, with its glitzy
skyscraper locales, wants badly to be the next ENTRAPMENT, which it isn't.
With its awful dialog, the movie works best when it shuts up. Eleanor Hooks
(Anne Archer), aide to U.N. Secretary General Douglas Thomas (Donald
Sutherland), says, for example, "My instinct tells me that something is
lurking under the surface."
What's lurking isn't a lot of brains. When Shaw hears from his partner, Bly
(Michael Biehn), over their communication system that Bly has been shot,
Shaw doesn't bother asking his location. Instead, Shaw goes around
screaming and runs right into danger himself.
Another time, as Agent Cappella (Maury Chaykin) is lying on the ground, the
bad guys come in to finish him off. These dumb villains have never heard of
bulletproof vests, so they make sure that Cappella's dead by shooting him in
the chest rather than the head. Getting up alive afterwards, the director
has Cappella take off his shirt to show us the vest. He doesn't think we
would be smart enough to figure that out on our own.
If all it takes to earn your entertainment dollars are audio assaults on
your ears and bloody images for your eyes, THE ART OF WAR may be just your
ticket. Those who demand a bit more from a movie will be bitterly
THE ART OF WAR runs 1:57. It is rated R for strong violence, some
sexuality, language and brief drug content and would be acceptable for older
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes