BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE STRANGER

By • Jun 12th, 2010 •

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Steve Austin stands with his arm extended gripping a gun behind the title, THE STRANGER. This sleek hologram sleeve for the DVD release is akin to receiving a beautifully wrapped present only to suffer dismay from what should have remained inside the box.

Finger-pointing is to be aimed at the screenwriter and the director for this low caliber film. Without “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, there would be no movie to market. Films such as this will continue to stymie any future that wrestlers could have and should have in quality features and allow the Hollywood haughty to scoff at wrestlers and murmur about the men in the ring as nothing more than providing lowbrow entertainment.

Steve Austin portrays an FBI agent in deep cover embroiled with the Russian mafia and the Mexican drug cartel, only to suffer amnesia and live several months as a drifter with this psychological disorder, while the FBI and a psychologist track him down. Once the parties come together, the truth, the evil plot twist, and his identity, are revealed.

The mafia has suffered much at the hands of bad screenwriters. Perhaps if “the syndicate” ruled with a sterner hand, these hacks could not get away with the disrespectful practice and absurdly concocted plots such as this one penned by Quinn Scott. The approach to this script is, from the first chapter on, bad screenwriting entitled ‘Connect the Dots.’ Quinn also subscribes to the theory that in times of peril, the immaculate occurs.

THE STRANGER may as well serve as the poster child for the lost art of filmmaking. The technical ease to produce moving images has created a crime of the craft that I would like to officially dub cinema paresseux. Chip sensitivity allows the camera to record without the need for a truckload of lights, but the art of shaping light has been disregarded. Due to the lightness of cameras today, a tripod and stabilization system is still recommended.

When Nick Gomez went handheld in LAWS OF GRAVITY back in ’92, he was considered a maverick.

The slick, “look at me Ma, I’m an editor!” opening sequence with black and white images, quick cuts, still frames, and bad music sums up the entire filmic mediocrity. WARNING: Some sequences may cause seizures. Seriously. The bad directorial choices are apparent in the overzealous employment of every camera angle. And to top it off, one of Steve Austin’s amnesia episodes has him believe that his name is Jake; another movie tough guy named Jake! The only surprise is that there wasn’t gratuitous nudity from the female lead, Erica Cerra. I would have bet the farm that this film would have contained the whole bad cinema kit and kaboodle.

The fighting scenes and chase scenes were discussed briefly in the Special Features, which consists of the film’s trailer and a very short, badly produced look at the film being made, with commentary by the director, Robert Lieberman, who should have avoided making comments about his input to the script and directing techniques.

Lieberman claims that a lot of footage is needed for a chase scene to be good. John Frankenheimer created a better chase scene the very first day an 8mm camera was placed in his hands. For a reference to a low budget film with motorcycle scenes, see Jack Cardiff’s GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE. It was simply shot, yet exuded feeling and captured the character’s spirit. THE STRANGER’s chase sequences are accompanied by bad music and bad camera work.

As far as the fight sequences, it would have been wise for Austin to choreograph them himself. Lackluster best fits their level of excitement.

The highlight of the film is Steve Austin. He has what it takes to be an action star. His character is given minimal dialogue. But, how much dialogue did Arnold Schwarzenegger have in THE TERMINATOR? Austin’s framework and demeanor compel him to endure great bouts of physical duress and maiming. In fact, the scenes where he is subjected to substantial punishment work well.

Many reviews will provide a favorable mention of Austin in this film, but with the mandatory rebuke of mentioning his wrestling career. For a man to draw 10,00 – 20,000 fans per night to an arena, he must certainly possess the charisma, the physical ability, and the talent to play a character. Should this not extend to the Cineplex?

Forget the sequel that the film cleverly alludes to unless the current screenwriter and director are booted. The date should be set for Steve Austin’s agent, Quinn Scott, and Robert Lieberman to take on Stone Cold in a wrestling ring and let him serve his brand of justice and trademarked catchphrase.

Int. Wrestling Ring

Stone Cold stands in the ring triumphantly above the three bloodied pulps of carnage.

Stone Cold
Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!

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8 Responses »

  1. The WWE films were much better than this film.
    How come Steve Austin was not billed as Stone Cold????

  2. As usual your articles are no non-sense and informative. When your punches hit their mark they can’t be more on target to who deserves them. These articles should be printed near the ads for the movies so that the screenwriters,directors,etc will stop trying to cut costs, have some pride in their work, an especially do right by the Star who deserves much more respect than was given !!!!!!

  3. It is a wonder as to why wrestlers get no respect. They work in a business which demands discipline and a strict regiment. They represent their company and must follow strict rules as to how to conduct themselves and never is there a temper tantrum that big movie stars try to pull. If they did, it would be over for them. All of the actresses that have slept their way to the top are somehow better than the men and women of wrestling. It was a sham when the voting academy looked down upon Mickey Rourke because he attended Wrestlemania. Steve Austin is a decent actor. I won’t even see this film after reading this review.

  4. I think Steve Austin deserves better material. Maybe the movie with Stallone will make him a real action hero.

  5. Let’s hear if for THE TEXAS RATTLESNAKE. He is so sexy!!!!!!!!

  6. well its safe to say this review is better then the movie…its sad to see Steve Austin in a bad movie AGAIN when we all know he can do a lot better.After reading this review i will not buy this movie maybe ill get “the rock’s” new movie THE TOOTH FAIRY

  7. Gee… and I thought I was going to read an indepth article about Orson Welles’s THE STRANGER.

  8. You’d think that with all the Russian immigrants in North America that the director would have been able to consult with someone (geez, antone at all) on the Russian language used in the film. Unbelievably bad! Both the written Russian and the spoken Russian were horrible!

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