Review: Uwe Boll Cross-Breeds 'Taxi Driver' With The Occupy Movement In Tone-Deaf 'Assault On Wall Street'

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by Gabe Toro
May 8, 2013 6:29 PM
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It’s time to stop treating Uwe Boll like some once-in-a-lifetime nightmare behind the camera, and to start acknowledging that he’s just another substandard genre filmmaker. He’s Lucio Fulci without the aesthetics and kinky fetishes, Takashi Miike without the profane poetry, Roger Corman without the imagination or generosity. No longer do you need to say, “Oh, I have GOT to see the newest Uwe Boll movie, that guy is terrible!” No, Boll’s talents and skillset have improved to the point where the gotta-see-it appeal of his earlier mistakes has hardened into a pragmatic, dull sensibility, allowing his output to become a cottage industry of annual releases set to be engulfed by the pit of Netflix Streaming before falling into oblivion. The sensationalist documentary about Boll’s career that we all envisioned would likely have run out of things to say about the filmmaker before we reached the deadening 99%-er vigilante drama “Assault On Wall Street.”

Does Dominic Purcell know his face is crying? The lumbering, ineffectual brute is an absolute zombie in the lead role of security guard Jim Baxford, who logs long hours in order to provide for his dying wife (Erin Karpluk). But most of his time is spent on the phone with healthcare providers and insurance sharks, haggling over premiums and regulations as the treatments do not take. His only relief is from frequent lunches with co-worker Sean (Edward Furlong) and cops Freddy and Frank (Keith David, Michael Pare). This murderer’s row of gone-to-seed character actors represents the height of this film’s professionalism, as all struggle mightily to imply a long-lasting mutual friendship, despite Baxford’s sunken eyes and humorless expressions. Pare has shown a surprising presence in a number of direct-to-DVD films, and David remains a formidable thespian at home in believable dramas or larger-than-life genre parts. Furlong, well… it’s nice that he’s staying out of trouble.

A meeting with a financial advisor played by Lochlyn Munro (of course it’s Lochlyn Munro) leads to the reveal that Baxford, like many American citizens, trusted the wrong people to make the wrong investments with his cash. Suddenly, he’s broke as his wife is about to enter an experimental treatment, and even legal action provides a dead-end: Baxford’s brief flirtation with a fast-talking lawyer (Eric Roberts channeling James Woods) leads to an accumulation of unworkable fees, and the blind hope of a class action suit in the distant future.

Boll has long been discussing a documentary he had planned about the financial collapse and corruption of Wall Street, though he appears to have funneled his efforts into this film, which is loaded with soundbites, YouTube videos and buzzwords co-opted by the Occupy movement. Boll’s done his research, as he seems desperate to share every single way common citizens have been screwed by the foolhardy investments of quota-filling investors, and to his credit “Assault On Wall Street” feels like an angry film, with none of the trademark Boll gags or satirical elements. It also results in a padded runtime filled with scenes of characters sighing as relevant news reports buzz on the television sets. Boll is also jazzed to be shooting on location in New York City, and he seems to have exploited every single second of coverage involving Baxford crossing streets, riding subways, and making his final, fatal trip to Wall Street. Removing every shot of Purcell’s dull-puppy expressions as he stares into the Hudson, or against a fleet of skyscrapers, would turn this into a short film.

What’s obnoxious is that it’s never in doubt where “Assault On Wall Street” is headed, and it seems to believe there’s a certain poetry to taking its time turning Baxford into a non-verbal Travis Bickle. By the time Baxford is buying guns off the street from Clint Howard (of course it’s Clint Howard!), there’s still a massive wait before what’s supposed to be a cathartic bloodbath. Boll doesn’t disappoint in that regard, revealing his charming bad taste in a techno-scored massacre where our lone gunman is the hero, punctuating the rage of the 99% crowd with bullets. To say this sort of thing is unfortunately topical is a cowardly way of saying that there’s never ever been a good time for this sort of picture with this type of moral outlook. But the age of being offended by this sort of thing might also be long-gone: the only question on viewers’ minds during the film’s violent climax is how exactly Boll was able to get so much shoddy footage on location. [D-]

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