Monday, December 5, 2011

War Wolves (2009)

Hip and hairless werewolf soldiers

A group of soldiers bonded by camaraderie get cornered with heavy fire when, instead of getting killed by bullets, they get attacked by Middle Eastern werewolves. Six months later and Jake--under the assumed name of Lawrence Talbot--came back with more than the usual post-traumatic stress disorder. He's suppressing something growing inside with alcohol and living the simple life working in a grocery store and attending AA meetings for his supposed addiction. His former love interest Erika and her two feisty female companions, who were there the day of the attack, are letting the growing beast take hold by giving into impulse. Meanwhile two old timers for the military are tracking Jake but instead of taking him out before the evil gets hold they find he has something good in him and let him be for the time being. The three women and another sidekick guy named Clay, who was once Jake's friend and fellow soldier, want to recruit him. You're either a naughty wolf or a nice one and Jake has to choose which side he's on by either fighting his inner demons or easily giving in to the primal urges.

"War Wolves" starts with one too many story arcs going on at once and on top of that one too many conflicting tones. It wasn't until 40 minutes or so in that you actually know what's going on and even then it's a little shaky. It ends up being a truly simple story but begins a jumbled mess with gratuitous amounts of style, a share of characters that come and go and a back and forth of a quirky type of humor and also a dramatic seriousness all at once. There's nothing wrong with a little mystery, subtlety, personable characters or some diverting fun, but this moves so far ahead of the audience as to leave a smoke trail behind. It tends to jump between scenes and situations that are completely different from the last every five to ten minutes. Some are constructed and built up for a specific segment but between them it feels all over the place. For instance, Jake gets confronted by a loosely mentioned assassin at an out of reach hotel only for the three were-babes to pop out of nowhere and take him with them--next scene has Jake in an alleyway in the city and a fight breaks out between him and the other male werewolf. Care for some continuity? It feels like a series that was edited down for a long preview and on top of that written backwards, so by the time it's coming to its close it will only start to make sense but be a headache before that.

This has a share of personality but it also had the focus and temperament of an ADHD child who was cooped up prior only to be unleashed on a sugar rush that Willy Wonka would be astonished at. The music feels like a public juke box the way a new song will come right after a completely different sounding one prior. If this is a horror movie, then the genre feels dead last to the other genres. The tone is more hip and trendy and intentionally comical than scary. They have tendency to make up their own rules of the werewolf--albeit it's mostly show while little is explained. Such as why there were werewolves in the Middle East and why they didn't just kill the soldiers with their superpowers? No full moon is needed, they can transform at whim and during the day--not to mention they don't grow any additional hair. Half the time they're using guns and mixed martial arts than fighting like beasts. What was the point of growing nails or large teeth? At one point, the creature "make-up" looks like the lion from "The Wizard of Oz" with a painted nose except without trying to be funny about it.

What makes this film a disappointment is there's some potential from the filmmakers. Some of the specific segments momentarily worked but not always in the grand scheme of things. They probably should have made a straight comedy as some of the timing and one liners were on point between the two old soldiers--John Saxon and Tim Thomerson (not believable as fighters though)--and also the odd people at the AA meeting who might have more issues than their past addiction. This has a lot of crafty dialogue that intertwines its words, with some of the characters being able to pull that off while others feel like they're reading something far too prewritten than coming out naturally. Especially when someone doesn't even get a word in while someone else goes on and on...

Rating: 3.5/10

Director: Michael Worth (Killing Cupid, God's Ears)
Stars: Michael Worth, John Saxon, Tim Thomerson, Natasha Alam, Adrienne Barbeau
Link: IMDB

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