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Originally published Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

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‘Falcon Rising’: B movie flies on crazed charisma of star

A movie review of “Falcon Rising”: This straightforward B-movie vengeance tale stands apart from the herd thanks to a charisma-soaked performance by Michael Jai White as an avenger with deadly martial-arts skills. It received 2.5 stars out of 4.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★★½  

‘Falcon Rising,’ with Michael Jai White, Laila Ali, Neal McDonough. Directed by Ernie Barbarash, from a screenplay by Y.T. Parazi. 103 minutes. Rated R for language, violence throughout and some sexual references/content. Sundance Cinemas (21+).

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That old saying about first impressions being the most lasting? It certainly holds true with “Falcon Rising.”

In all respects, “Falcon” is the very definition of a B picture. Budget: low. Stars: second tier (and lower). Plotting: predictable.

It’s a straightforward vengeance tale with no other ambition than to entertain.

That said, it has something. And that something is evident in its opening minutes: close-up of a hand dropping bullets into shot glasses and then pouring whiskey over them. Now show the man with the hand drinking that high-caliber cocktail. Now show him spitting those bullets out, loading a couple into a revolver and playing some Russian roulette.

Clearly a tormented soul here.

Shortly afterward, finding himself in the middle of a convenience-store robbery, he invites a robber to shoot him. Demands it, in fact. “Either shoot me,” he instructs, “or stop wasting my time.” And then he beats the guy silly.

That, friends, is an opening, especially when this particular tormented soul is played with the charisma and conviction that star Michael Jai White brings to the role.

It’s reminiscent of the wild-eyed conviction Mel Gibson brought to a similar opening situation in the first “Lethal Weapon.” Crazed charisma. Grabs the attention every time.

Thus grabbed, one is willing to follow White’s character, a muscled wedge of a man with a bad case of post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq, to the slums of Rio, where his social worker sister (Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter) has been beaten and left for dead by unsavory characters. In colorful Brazilian surroundings, White’s character, a deadly martial artist, will bring acres of pain to legions of unsavories.

Nothing new here, in other words, but White’s electrifying performance makes it all seem somehow fresh.

Soren Andersen: asoren7575@yahoo.com



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