By: Hawk Ripjaw (Five Beers) –
Weaponized shows a special kind of promise in the opening moments, as Kyle Norris (Tom Sizemore, apparently coked out of his fucking mind) loses his son to a terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Elsewhere, a war veteran (Timothy Woodward Jr.) returns home and suddenly slaughters an entire hotel lobby with no memory of doing so. In the interrogation room with Detective Walker (Johnny Messner, looking distractingly like Paul Walker with that beard), the veteran’s disposition suddenly changes and he confesses to the crime and commits suicide with his pen. Walker sets out to investigate, and is approached by a man named Clarence (Mickey Rourke) who gives Walker information on a strange government program. When Walker later visits Clarence at his home, he is surprised to see that Clarence is wheelchair-bound and has no recollection of their conversation. As he continues to dig, he finds that Clarence used to spearhead a project in which a skilled soldier could have his consciousness transferred briefly into a certain host, allowing any unwitting individual to temporarily become a killing machine. With this technology, Kyle Norris is going to… avenge his son?
To its credit, Weaponized goes after a pretty unique story. Transplanting a super soldier’s consciousness into someone else to use them as a weapon is a step above the average indie film, and there’s the framework of a good story here.
That story, unfortunately, goes to waste because the movie takes about an hour to actually explain what exactly is going on, and proceeds to rush its third act and withhold any sort of satisfactory resolution. Sure, there is a resolution, but the emotion is unearned and nothing really feels accomplished. The plot as a whole, too, is just a mess. Online synopses aren’t even really accurate. This is about an hour of the detective doing investigative work, followed by 30 minutes of him trying to stop an evil plot that could just as easily be the foundation for an awesome hero story in a different movie. Seriously, how fucking cool would it be to have a 90s-style movie about super soldiers that transplant their consciousness into other people? Sadly, that cool idea is relegated to just the villain’s plot and while an IMDB synopsis states that this is part of his grand plan to get revenge for the death of his son, that kind of comes across half-baked as well.
So much of Weaponized is just clumsy. An early scene has our war veteran “accidentally” stepping on a landmine and shouting out a full line of dialogue before realizing his foot is on an object literally sticking three feet out of the ground. A late scene involving a killer robot (don’t ask) is not much more than a series of extremely odd edits that feel like a scene twice the length was hacked to pieces. The consciousness-swap is used briefly on Walker’s wife to get her to kill him, a scene which apparently only exists for Taylor Cole to try to sit on Johnny Messner’s face.
I mean, that’s not specifically a complaint, but it does show the bizarre scattershot approach this movie takes to its plot.
Government guy! Cop guy! Hacker guy! General! Bitter ex-soldier! Scientist person! Asian Guy who Knows Surprise Martial Arts! If there is a character stereotype, it’s probably in this movie. None of them come remotely close to breaking out of their well-worn behaviors.
Weaponized has no idea how much fun it could be having. Or maybe it does, but it doesn’t really go for it like it could. Oddly, there are distinct moments where you can absolutely see where a director could have a blast. For example, there is a scene in which Walker is driving with his daughter, who is eating ice cream. Walker looks into the backseat and says “Careful honey! You don’t wanna spill on your clothes,” and they are promptly t-boned by a villainous SUV. Even in the script, the irony is locked and loaded, but the movie completely whiffs on capitalizing on it.
Weaponized is distractingly murky as to what it’s actually going for. It almost feels like it was directed by two different people, who just tagged out every couple of scenes. When the detective is recreating the hotel massacre, there’s actually some pretty competent, stylish shot transitions. Earlier on, a three-way exchange of dialogue has reaction shots that are so unconvincing, they might as well have shot each of the actors on separate sound stages and it would not have made any difference. Moreover, the movie has several instances in which it comes frustratingly close to competent, with some very good examples of strong shot composition interspersed with incredibly lazy ones. That weird patchwork of quality, coupled with an idea that sounds good on paper but never gets fully explored on screen, are what end up being the film’s downfall.
Weaponized Drinking Game
Do a Shot: for each new character archetype that shows up.
Take a Drink: for every scene in which Tom Sizemore does not appear to be sober.
Take a Drink: whenever the movie fails to properly explain a scene.
Do a Shot: when the editing makes sense.