Blackout isn’t original, but it’s fast-paced and will delight action enthusiasts who love it.
Languages: English and Hindi with Hindi as well as English subtitle choices
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Nick Nolte, Abbie Cornish, Omar Chaparro, Barbara de Regil
Director: Sam Macaroni
Star rating: 2/5
Josh Duhamel wakes up in an amnesia-inducing hospital and is shocked to discover that gangsters and cops alike are pursuing his life for reasons that he cannot clearly remember. If you recognize The Bourne Identity in that story, you’ll find an abundance of Die Hard included in the plot as well. Blackout is in essence an action film that weaves simple set pieces, drawing inspiration from two best action films Hollywood ever created.
Sam Macaroni’s direction also reaffirms the enduring fascination of Hollywood with fast-fix thrillers that are made with an extremely low budget. The small action film as a way of generating quick returns has lasted through the changing trends of the years, with only his face on the poster altering with the passage of time. From Charles Bronson to Chuck Norris to Steven Seagal and beyond Action on a budget will always find ready-to-takers. The Blackout movie is the latest in the lineup that lets Duhamel showcase his stunt work for fun.
If the goal was to accommodate an all-out spectacle, the creators of Blackout are not shy in how they do it starting right from the first scene. The banner credits go on to start to play, and Duhamel goes straightaway into the business of kick-butt. The character, won’t be recognized for a long time and is desperately trying to escape from a person or area that isn’t easily explained for a while. In a way, the beginning of the film sums up everything that is Blackout and its nimble editing, erratic editing, fast cinematography, loud music and choreographed action supporting the narrative that doesn’t require any thought process. As time passes in the film, it becomes apparent that the creators of the film are not in the mood to provide a sense of novelty. On the flip side, you’re hit simultaneously the action is intense enough that you will never be bored, despite the film’s absence of novelty.
In a film in which stunts have more significance than the plot, the creator Van B. Nguyen, in her first big-screen project, opts for a simple plot while allowing the heroes, sidekicks, and villains to showcase their skills in combat. Duhamel’s amnesiac who is in a hospital quickly becomes apparent is named John Cain — the reason for this is that the name has an emulation with Bruce Willis’ Die Hard character John McClane could be coincidental or even deliberate, you choose your own. Cain encounters a woman whose name is Anna ( Abbie Cornish) by his bedside when he awakes and declares her as his spouse. A strangely sinister man, who is wearing every B-movie cliche used by The Mexican cartel boss arrives in the room of Cain’s doctor and introduces himself as Eddie (Omar Chaparro) who is an old acquaintance. It isn’t taking Cain time to realize out Eddie is an official of the Mexican leader of the cartel, however, what really shocks our hero is Anna’s admission that he also works for the cartel.
Blackout is a classic action movie that appeals to the lowest of common when is about dialogue. The dialogue isn’t very imaginative and, like everything else. In keeping with the tradition of B-movies, it is filled with dialogue that slyly and frequently uses the word “f****” whenever the screenplay requires to make tension. Thus when Anna says to Cain that he’s working with Eddie within the cartel her reaction, intended to be a high-point with a touch of humor typically: “I have to wake up and be a cartel member. Are you shaming me? !”
With a running time of fewer than 90 minutes, the film squanders nothing in pushing the story forward. After Cain has been admitted to the hospital suffering from memory loss, Cain discovers the fact that Eddie, Anna, and a number of others, such as his medical doctor, are trying to get details from him regarding the briefcase they have in mind. Nobody has any idea about the contents, however, Cain thinks it must be an important item.
The small box of the briefcase is what the movie is about. “I need that case,” the villain Eddie says, before the statement within nine minutes of the film, will reveal what the remainder of the story unfolds. The plot will be bolstered by tension with the appearance of Nick Nolte as DEA Agent Ethan McCoy. There’s no surprise, he’s trying to locate Cain and is also looking into the investigation, too. The tinny plot leads to the obvious trigger that allows the action to start. All of them want the briefcase and Cain isn’t keen to give it to one of them. It’s clear how the story will come to an end before the actual drama begins.
Nguyen’s writing is dull and uninteresting, yet it is filled with the use of expletives. It is also able to sneak into a completely uninvolved scene within the hefty pace of action. A thriller that aims to increase suspense through its protagonist’s amnesiac mind, the novel twists in this novel are from what you’d think. Many plot twists including the action sequences, will recall other movies in the genre. For instance, when McCoy begins to play a role in the story it is clear that Cain will be getting an entirely different, yet unpredictably updated version of his story. McCoy alters the image of the plot from the one Anna and Eddie believed Cain believed. That is just the beginning of the numerous cliches you’d expect to see in will be revealed as the story unfolds. The majority all the plot twists and turns are incorporated into the plot to ensure a continuous sequence of fighting scenes.
If Macaroni is looking at Jason Bourne to draw inspiration for his fictional amnesiac, his plan to lock the protagonist in one place (in this instance the hospital building and to unfold his tale in a single night is influenced by The movie Die Hard. In a completely different way, John Cain ends up in the wrong spot at the wrong moment, much similar to John McClane. If Macaroni’s execution of the film appears to be a bit stale, it’s because he’s too lazy to see past the generic stereotypes. There are just so many ways you can defeat your opponent with a fist or take the gun from his grasp. The overflow of action cliches well-recorded doesn’t inspire after a few minutes or unless you’re a serious fan of the genre that is enthralled by every scene in the event that the stunts continue to come. The great thing about the B-action film is that it’s not altered over the decades, and it will not. Blackout with its intentionally enhanced tech specs to maximize the intensity of its immediate thrills isn’t exactly the kind of film that cares about the finer elements of cinema.
Duhamel fights with anything the actor can get his hands on — dishes, tray boxes, and obviously knives, guns as well as fists and kicks. If the plan is to make his career a new one as the next Bruce Willis, the actor must work with new scripts. The entire cast, including Abbie Cornish, moves through the motions acting out stereotypes that are common to the genre. Nick Nolte’s appearance in the film is quite a delight, but the veteran who is 80 or more appears a little too over the top to be portrayed as an impressive DEA Agent who is capable of solving difficult cases. Overall, it’s an intriguing group of characters in a movie that doesn’t perform to the standards they claim to. This is a single film for those who love action.
Rating: * (two points in five)
Vinayak Chakravorty works as a columnist, critic, and film journalist who is located in Delhi NCR.