Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I make no bones that I’m a fan of stupid action movies. I’d rather watch a stupid action movie than a stupid Romantic Comedy, or a stupid Moronic Comedy or a stupid any kind of movie. I’d almost rather watch a stupid action flick than a good Romantic Comedy in most cases which brings us to my man Cuba Gooding Jr.’s latest flick, which is a fairly stupid action movie, in ‘Hero Wanted’. The Academy Award winning actor is experiencing a pretty strange career right about now as he is horning in on Steven Seagal territory when it comes to being the lead in DTV action flicks, but still does the occasional ridiculously lame theatrical release, i.e., ‘Daddy Day Care’ and the like, and shills underwear in his spare time. You know I’m the last guy who’s going to fault a man for finding legal ways to put money in his pocket so you go ahead do what have to do Mr. Gooding.

‘Hero Wanted’ features a fractured narrative where we meet Liam Case (Gooding) drunk at a bar, looking like hell and spewing puke all over the place. Liam narrates and informs us that this isn’t the best place to start his story. So Liam fills us in on how he got to the point, as we learn that he is one real hard luck cat. A garbage man by trade Liam lost his pregnant wife in a tragic car accident and was barely surviving, living in constant grief until one day while having a brew at an outside café with his colleague Swain (Norman Reedus), he witnesses a terrible car accident. A big SUV slams into the side of a Volvo while a little girl was trapped inside and without even thinking Liam risks his own life to enter the burning car and saves the little girl while fire sizzles parts of his body. This simple act of selflessness has deservedly labeled Liam a hero and for the first time in his life, he feels alive once again.

Our narrative fractures yet again because the next thing we know Liam is sneaking into a garage to kill some dude, reasons for which are unknown as of yet, and as we can

plainly see by his awkward attempts to get this done, Liam is no badass – at least not yet. Forward to surly police detective Subcott (Ray Liotta). who is standing over this dead thug, who will be investigating this murder and a few others that will soon follow. Why did Liam kills this guy in the first place and why is he on this revenge filled rampage? It has something to do with a Bank Robbery where Liam was cashing a check and talking to the pretty teller (Christa Campbell) when all hell breaks loose due to a group of crazed gunmen busting in the joint. One of them, while acting quite stupidly, accidently shoots the teller in the head which leads to Liam taking a bullet as well. Liam would survive his wounds with little wear but a bullet in the brain tends to lead to a comatose state, which is what this teller has to look forward to, which makes Liam and this teller’s mom (Jean Smart) very sad. Thing is that before the crazed thugs decided to pull off this little caper, we see that Liam’s garbage partner Swain is the wheelman for this robbery, and it also seems that somehow, someway that Liam was also involved in this robbery as well, we’re just not quite sure how. What we do know is that whatever went down didn’t go the way it was supposed to and now we have an off center garbage man with a gun in his hand and revenge on his mind.

Overall, considering the genre, ‘Hero Wanted’ isn’t all that bad of a stupid action movie. Cuba Gooding Jr. is a fine actor who handles the role of the tortured garbage man quite well, plus he’s an athletic actor which I’m certain makes it easier for him to handle all of the running, jumping and fighting that is necessary for a role such as this one. Cuba also has a very soft voice which probably would have been a detriment to a cat playing an ass kicking name taking bad guy but for this role as a man who is just a sensitive grieving garbage man with a large vendetta, it works fine. Is Ray Liotta a good actor? I don’t know. Though I can’t really see him in a Sunday afternoon performance of ‘A Midsummers Night Dream’ I know he’s great at what he does do and he’s great in this as the hostile cop who reluctantly realizes what he has to do. Director Brian Smrz, despite the fact he has no vowels in his last name, paces his film well with plenty of action and some pretty decent villains.

Now what makes ‘Hero Wanted’ stupid? It probably has the most inanely ridiculous setup for a bank robbery I’ve ever seen. The screenwriters knew it was ridiculous, the director had to know it was ridiculous, the characters in the movie knew it was ridiculous and even said as much through their dialog but yet they all still allowed this to be the crux of the tragic bank robbery which pretty much drives the film. I can’t spoil it for you since it’s such an important part of the movie but lets just say brother man has gotta get better game than that if he wants to get by. I also thought the final scene was a bit disingenuous considering all that has happened prior to this scene and put an unfortunately shiny gloss on a film that was gritty and tough.

Lastly, though this has absolutely nothing to do with the film or the quality of the film or any entertainment value you will get out of the film but it’s something I did notice that most probably wont notice or even care about. But Cuba was the only Black person in this film. I’m talking no Black people sitting in café’s, working in hospitals, dancing in clubs, walking down the street… nothing. The only reason this even stands out is because the star of the movie is Black. This flick was shot somewhere in Bulgaria as is increasingly the case as Seagal shoots a crapload of his movies over there and seems to always import extras of various ethnicities. Just as a suggestion, Cuba, you might want to import about fifteen or twenty folks of color for your next Bulgarian or Romanian shoot. Only to help sell the whole realism angle of the thing. Just a suggestion. Otherwise, despite a really, really stupid hook, ‘Hero Wanted’ ain’t such a bad way to spend ninety minutes of your time.


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