The Weapon, 2023.
Directed by Tony Schiena.
Starring Tony Schiena, AnnaLynne McCord, Sean Patrick Flanery, Richard Grieco, Jeff Fahey, Chuck Zito, Jack Kesy, Donald Cerrone, James Chalke, Mark Justice, Oleg Prudius, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Bruce Dern.
Dallas is a one-man killing machine on a mysterious rampage. His attacks on biker gangs and meth labs anger the Vegas mob boss who’s holding Dallas’s girlfriend hostage. But who is Dallas working for? Even torture won’t make him talk…and he won’t stop until justice is served.
It is remarkable how inept and incoherent The Weapon is. Not to be mean or take pleasure in tearing down the work of others, but this directorial debut from star Tony Schiena (not helped by an abysmal script with an excessive amount of characters from Michael Caissie) is below amateurish across the board. He simply does not possess the means to be a filmmaker, and it has nothing to do with this being a low-budget action flick.
The opening moments introduce former special forces agent Dallas (Tony Schiena, equally horrendous at the acting part) on the road discussing what to do next with a woman he rescued from a sex trafficking ring. During this conversation (which is also filled with painful acting), the film cuts back to Dallas’ violent encounter with a biker gang, depicting that rescue. However, the film also jumps back to the dialogue in the car and then to the beginning of the brawl for elusive reasons. If none of what I’m saying makes sense, it is because the editing also makes no goddamn sense and is nearly impossible to articulate.
This is also a film that keeps introducing characters without even registering who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, who they are associated with, and why anyone should care. It also kills off or never comes back to those characters (this might be the lowest point of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s career.) The gist is that Dallas is on a rampage disrupting the operations of biker gangs and cartels to reach their middleman Lars (Richard Grieco), who has kidnapped his girlfriend (played by AnnaLynne McCord.)
Strangely, Dallas contemplates a fling with one of the rescued girls that starts to hit on him, to which he declines, but they also seem to agree they each deserve better in their love lives. All of this is bizarre, but nothing compared to watching a henchman literally say “LOL” to suck up to his boss during a torture scene.
Maybe there are bits and pieces of dialogue that do clear things up, although if there are, it’s buried underneath tough guy posturing and acting that feels more like wrestling promos that wrestlers would be embarrassed to deliver. Even the villain, Lars, looks wildly out of place as if he should be doing macabre magic; he looks like a cross between Chris Angel and Jared Leto or failed rock musician with no charisma. Not for a second does he fit into this narrative about career criminal activity. Then there’s the action, where it looks like everyone is maneuvering through molasses to perform generic MMA takedowns (Dallas is more of a brute that occasionally uses guns.)
Meanwhile, The Weapon keeps continuously introducing new characters, including one played by Bruce Dern, for two minutes before the movie just… ends. Outside one bone-crunching moment, this is bafflingly lousy filmmaking. At one point, one character makes things meta by saying, “you’re acting like the talkative, clichéd villain that could have killed the hero,” but this movie gets no credit for self-awareness because at least those clichéd movies make some degree of sense.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com