Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

I give this film credit for delivering what it promises: Big, loud, dark, dumb entertainment, with low-grade Gothic pretensions and a silent, charismaless anti-hero. Throw in even more physics-defying stunt choreography and moronic symbolism and you get the worse "Daredevil." Polish the script and demonstrate the skill of blocking your fight scenes for the camera and you get the better "The Punisher." The material is more or less the same; it's all in the execution.

There are three good things about this film, namely Chris Gorak's above-average set design, Gabriel Beristain's stylish photography, and Ryan Reynolds's surprisingly satisfying one-liners. I would have been better able to enjoy the film if the dialogue wasn't nearly completely banal. Listen to Blade and Whistler debate the plot with each other despite devoting their lives to it, and notice how they recite the most basic details with the slow, careful articulation of a first-grader reading aloud for the class. I realize that "Vanity Fair" isn't for everybody, but is there something wrong with wanting more than vapid, poorly-recited exposition in a movie? It's empty calories.

The action is a mixed bag. For every great shot, like the villain smashing Blade through the floor or Blade catching his boomerang in a different spot from where he threw it, there are a dozen choppy, difficult-to-follow sequences that are the nearly inevitable result of hiring actors who are not stuntmen and have no combat training. Seriously: What is the fucking point of hiring real thespians for action roles, when they are required to fire weaponry and kick people but not to recite any meaningful language? I want to like Dominic Purcell, but he's far too junior-grade to play the Ultimate Villain role in which he has been cast here; what, was Howie Long unavailable? Again I give praise to Ryan Reynolds's delivery (and his physique — I think he put on Jessica Biel's entire body weight in muscle), but otherwise this film is messy, useless tedium.

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