Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So why does this movie suck so bad?  I know what you’re thinking, it’s because Justin Timberlake was given the lead role in a movie that jas two of the greatest working film actors of our day in Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey.  Well, no, Timberlake wasn’t that bad.  Not that good either, but he doesn’t sink the movie.  Then, you may say, it must have been because of that damn rapper James Todd ‘L.L. Cool J’ Smith and that clown from ‘The Practice’, Dylan McDermott.  Well, again, as far as I can tell, James Todd stopped being a rapper a long time ago and is actually pretty good in his role.  As an actor L.L. knows his limits and rarely ventures outside those limits, thus within those limits you can count on him to deliver pretty much in any movie he shows up in. Dylan McDermott is certainly a veteran actor who plays the role of whizzed out Special Forces cop Lazerov with over the top gusto.

Toss in solid performances by veteran actors John Heard and Cary Elwes, and a story that had some potential and we’re left with a conundrum.  How could a movie with two great actors, a shitload of really good actors, a pop star for the teenie bopper set and a decent setup of a story have turned out so lost and crappy that is gets jettisoned straight to video?  Well writer, director David Burke, it seems the blame has to fall completely on your shoulders.

Welcome Edison.  Some mythical urban US city where crime used to run rampant.  That was until the First Response Assault Team, or FRAT as they warmly known, was formed.  Under the watchful eye of Director Tilman (Heard), these guys clean up the streets like it’s nobody’s business, and since they are held accountable for nothing, criminals shake in fear at just the mention of their name.  And rightfully so since they usually kill them and take their loot.  But Hey, they get da job done.

When Lazerov (McDermott) and Deeds (L.L.) do a little raid on small crack operation, they take the drugs and loot but make no arrests.  One of dealers is upset and starts talking a little smack.  Note to self; when cops take my drugs and money but don’t take me, they are probably dirty.  Do not mention getting their badge number and turning them in as bad things may happen.  In the first (well maybe the eighth) of many many logic flaws in this flick.  Lazerov kills one of the dealers, but blesses the other dealer by allowing him to live as long as he agrees to take the murder rap for killing the other dealer in exchange for his life.  Huh?

Whatever.  It goes to trial, Deeds testifies to the lie in court and the perp thanks him for letting him live.  This is overheard by cub reporter Pollack (Timberlake).  He writes this explosive expose about corruption in the FRAT, but his publisher, Moses Ashford (Freeman) won’t print it because he has no facts to back anything up.  For some reason this makes no damn sense to Pollack who only after some convincing from his girlfriend (Piper Perabo) does he actually decide to investigate the story and accrue some hard evidence.  Due to Pollack’s research, however, people start to die.  This does not escape crack police investigator Wallace (Spacey) who works with Moses and Pollack to root out the evil FRAT and bring their tyranny to justice!

Somewhere along the way this thing gets totally out of hand.  Maybe Burke, who wrote a lot for TV, was trying to shove a seasons worth a Wiseguy in one ninety minute movie.  I don’t know.  One segment had Pollack and his girl getting beat near to death outside a club, putting his girl in a coma.  Apparently they forgot about that bitch because they never came back to her.  I assume she remains in a movie coma to this day.  The conspiracy in the flick runs so deep that every major player in the city is involved as FRAT uses seized drug money to overpay, pentagon style, for everything.  Where is Pollack going to the info he needs to blow this one wide open?  Why on the FRAT central PC of course.  Every evil doer keeps all of their personal records and dirty books on unencrypted files on their work computers.  I know I do.

Finally, ‘cause I’m spending way to much time on this one, it ends in a shootout, where the super Agent Deeds, saddled with a cub reporter has to do battle with the meanest toughest brigade of FRAT cops on the force.  And he kills them all.  Why he has rocket launchers, super armor piercing machine guns, and blow torches and they don’t is beyond me.  Pollack also scores a kill using the old walk under a suspended heavy object while I press the conveniently located green release button and let it land on your head trick.

The waste of talent on this one is almost criminal.  I could take Freeman and Spacey, have them sit in apartment talking about their dirty laundry for ninety minutes and it would be better than this.  In the middle of my epic film, I’d have Timberlake deliver a pizza and lament about wardrobe malfunctions for about five minutes then leave.  Waitaminute… I think I may have something.  Later all, I’ve got a script to write.

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