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I think we discovered what happened to Mario Van Peebles: Posse (1993)

As you know, in my last post, I asked the question, what the hell happened to Mario Van Peebles?  Well, after he directed and starred in Posse (1993) we now know where he went—into the can.

Obviously, this is my humble opinion.  After Van Peebles costarred in Heartbreak Ridge (1986) with Eastwood, he then costarred with Wesley Snipes and others in New Jack City (1991) which was probably the best film Van Peebles has been in.  So a couple of years after New Jack City, a screw must have come loose when Van Peebles decided to direct and star in Posse.  As my regular visitors know, I have a very high threshold for bad movie pain but Posse took me to the limits.

Where to start.  Well, the story is presented as a flashback told by an unnamed Old Man with a Cuban prologue during the Spanish American War—one of the most cliché devices I think film makers use.  Jesse Lee (Mario Van Peebles) leads the US Army 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers who are fighting in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.  The 10th is barely holding its own and is under constant attack from enemy troops.  Jesse Lee runs back to the command post of the corrupt and racist Colonel Graham (Billy Zane) asking that the 10th Cavalry be allowed to pull back and regroup.  The crooked Colonel offers him a deal: in exchange for shooting a deserter he will permit the retreat.  Instead of killing the man in cold blood, Lee shoots a cigar out of his mouth.  After killing the deserter himself, the Colonel offers Jesse Lee’s command of the 10th to another prisoner called “Little J” (Stephen Baldwin) (the alternative is a firing squad). Graham then orders the 10th to fall back in order to begin another mission that will require them to wear civilian clothing, as opposed to their Cavalry uniforms, making them spies under the rules of war and deserters under the U.S. Army code of military justice.  The 10th is ordered to rob a Spanish gold shipment, which is really a setup to give the Colonel an excuse to execute the entire 10th Cavalry as deserters. 

The 10th get the gold and begin to run somewhere as a newly formed “Posse,” always just one step ahead of the evil Colonel.  After a number of chase scenes and close encounters, we discover that Jesse is really seeking revenge for the hanging of his father.  The run takes the Posse to some small towns where Jesse is known, respected and feared.  Eventually there is  about a 30 minute battle royale between the Posse and the white town folks and the evil Colonel.  Some of the Posse is killed (except of course for Jesse and his Indian squaw) and all of the white folks and soldiers either flee or die a loud death.  Then of course there is the climactic battle between Jesse and his arch nemesis the Colonel.  Well, I don’t think I need to tell you how that comes out. 

Finally, after the bloodshed, the gold and riding off into the sunset, we flash forward to the narrator who is now an old man telling the tale to some journalists and even has a book that Jesse’s father had given him somewhere along the way.

This move is bad on so many levels I hardly know where to start.  The film starts out looking good until the characters open their mouths, then it becomes clear that they are so flat, so comic book, so ‘much’, both the good and the bad guys are just over the top bad; I would try to describe them further but my fingers might turn to rust as if a pox were put on my computer.  Every stereotype imaginable manages to get a role in this one—right down to their names, like “Father Time” or “King David.”  Moreover, throughout the movie we are presented with an in-your-face history lesson of whitey’s oppression of everyone.  True or not: save it for the PBS documentaries. 

Now here is the worst part: the talent.  This movie had a formidable cast. Just look at this list:

Mario Van Peebles – as Jesse Lee

Stephen Baldwin – as Little J

Billy Zane – as Colonel Graham

Melvin Van Peebles – as Papa Joe

Big Daddy Kane – as Father Time

Blair Underwood – as Carver

Isaac Hayes – as Cable

Charles Lane – as Weezie

Robert Hooks – as King David

Richard Jordan – as Sheriff Bates

Pam Grier – as Phoebe

Aaron Neville – as Railroad Singer

Stephen J. Cannell (yes the TV & film writer who recently died of skin cancer)- as Jimmy Love

I mean come on, Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes, Blair Underwood (L.A. Law)!  Van Peebles managed to take a great cast, lots of money and a potential story and create something unbearable to watch.  Unfortunately, Posse is yet another classic example of what Hollywood considers its audiences to be—simple minded.  I don’t know, maybe they are, but that does not mean I have to like it.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in Movie Reviews

 

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Passenger 57—Get passage out of the theater for this one.

Oh my, it’s been too long since I reviewed a real piece of #^$@ movie, so I dug deep into my bag of tricks to find a really smelly film: Passenger 57. This one is agonizing to watch since it hurts on so many levels. The movie’s signature tag-ling/sound byte was Wesley Snipes saying “always bet on black.” How clever. That is what is put forth as the highlight of the movie—and even that is reaching. Even if the only thing you’re interested in when you watch an action movie is guns blazing and fight scenes, then this one still falls short because the movie repeatedly insists on descending into silliness, with a story that makes very little sense, even as action movies go.

Snipes plays John Cutter, a security expert who’s just been hired to be chief of security for Atlantic International Airlines. He boards a flight for Los Angeles not knowing that the FBI is transporting a vicious terrorist on the same flight. The opening scenes involving terrorist Charles Rane (Bruce Payne) and his attempt to escape the FBI by fleeing a plastic surgeon’s office, where he was apparently going to have his appearance changed, was so cliché and over acted it had established the nature of movie early on.

Naturally the rest of the movie is a back and forth Die Hard wannabe duel between snipes and the terrorist. So poor I can’t even recount on the site as it could be viral and affect the other reviews.

This film has one redeeming quality. It’s very short. So short, in fact, that you’re actually pleasantly surprised when it ends. Surely that can’t be it, you muse for a moment, after Snipes has dispatched the chief bad guy. But yes, in an act of euthanasia for which the producers should be highly commended, its life support system is switched off and this turkey is given the quick death it so richly deserves.

In 2006 Wesley Snipes was indicted for tax fraud and he was found guilty of willfully failing to file his tax returns. Well the charge is a bit wrong – it’s the audience who’ve been defrauded by foolish excuse for an action movie. I apologize for having put you through this but I felt I owed it to you.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Liberty Stand Still No. 2 of 3 in the Oliver Platt Tribute

Liberty Stand Still is not too well known, but I like it.  I always think that  Linda Fiorentino is great no matter what role she plays and although Oliver Platt does not have a major part in this film it’s enough.  Platt plays Fiorentino’s husband–she is an heir to a gun manufacturer that has questionable business practices–but he runs the company.  Wesley Snipes plays a sniper (no joke) who lost a child in a gun related death manufactured by Platt’s & Fiorentino’s company.

Snipes takes Linda Fiorentino, who ‘s family founded a fire-arms company, hostage threatening to either kill her with a sniper rifle or by detonating a bomb located in a hot dog cart she is cuffed to.  The movie never definitely tells us Snipes true motives, but as the hostage situation unfolds he hints at political corruption, avenging the death of his daughter, even trying to kill Oliver Platt.  You are never really told.  Snipes, who actually acts in this movie instead playing the monosyllabic action hero, ultimately kills himself as the authorities are closing in but not before broadcasting his long dialog with Liberty exposing the corruption et cetera.

Yes the movie went directly to video and yes the movie is openly preachy in anti-gun anti-corporation/business attitude, but if you seriously think that Hollywood will ever in our lifetimes have an open unbiased discussion of these issues then I have a bridge to sell you–No really you can even set up toll booths to make money.

I had never seen snipes act before but he clearly can and of course so can Linda.  This film gave both of these underrated actors a chance do their jobs.

It certainly is not crap.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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