Hero Wanted (2008)

Posted by prla1983 on August 14, 2008 • 0 commentsEmail This Post

When I look at the poster for "Hero Wanted", I cannot help but think this should be an old-fashioned cops and robbers action flick. I mean, just look at it. The burning cityscape, the title with a flame-like background itself, a gun in the middle and both Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ray Liotta ready for a face-off. In fact, it also reminds me of a very old arcade racing game I used to play hours on end on my old faithful ZX Spectrum. It was called Chase HQ and you can see its poster on the left. Remember that one? It just royally sucked that you had to reload yet another portion of the tape to actually get to play the next level. Good times.

Back to the subject at hand. The truth is that "Hero Wanted" is indeed kind of an action flick (not in the sense I implied, certainly) and it does have good guys and bad guys and one of them, especially, I had a hard time figuring out which side was he on, despite knowing all the facts about him and everything he'd done, right and wrong. "Hero Wanted" is director Robert Smrz's debut and thus, this time, he's forgiven for his sins. This is a really good story, marred by questionable directorial choices. That which could have been one of the season's best movies, ends up being just another flick, passing pretty much under the radar.

I won't be able to say much about the story without spoiling all the fun, as this is an anachronistic Pulp Fiction kind of movie, but suffice to say that Liam Case (Cuba Gooding Jr.) walks alone as he lost both her wife and child. Tough times for him and when he finds love again, he does something really foolish with dramatic consequences for everyone involved. Especially for those who drop dead. Ray Liotta plays (or shall we say, underplays) the cop who figures things out, but I was left really cold with his performance. Liotta can't act bad, because he's so good, but the truth of the matter is that the script doesn't call much for him. A pity.

Cuba Gooding Jr. however is superb and I could really feel for the guy even if he made some questionable choices along way. And not just because he lost his loved ones. His story arc is fantastic. The film bets on shocking the viewer multiple times along the way, but some things are so unbelievable - for instance, a little girl, crucial in the plot, talking like she's 35 - that we don't know whether to feel shocked or outraged.

But in any case, despite all its pitfalls, "Hero Wanted" is a movie worth seeing. The action scenes are nothing special, the characters are too plain except for Liam, the bad guys are too stupid and full of themselves to be taken seriously, the few cops that show up are even more stupid and simply get shot, plus the pace of the movie is sometimes a little bumpy with a few scenes after which we're left wondering what the hell was that for anyway.

But the story kinda makes up for it, reminding me of the well intentioned motives behind all the tragedies in Sidney Lumet's brilliant, brilliant "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead". That movie though, is a whole different thing.

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