Note: Due to spending some time on other projects (such as dealing with my spotty internet connection again), I didn’t have time to write an article for today. Instead, I’m digging up another old review of mine from my pre-blog days when I would occasionally write these on forums I was a member of. In this case, the review is from 2006, of a 2005 film entitled Edison Force, directed by first-time director David J. Burke. It was originally going to be a theatrical release called Edison, but a strongly negative reception at the Toronto Film Festival led to it going direct-to-video. Had I known that, I may have avoided it — but at the time I tended to watch first, investigate later. Admittedly, I still do; how else is one to discover hidden gems? Not that this is one. The review is left unaltered save for a few minor adjustments, so it may lack some of my current polish… though my snideness is in full abrasive force.
I’ll start my review with a bit of disappointment, as the movie doesn’t involve a science-fiction task force run by Thomas Alva Edison, which would probably have made a better movie. Edison Force is about a wannabe journalist (yes, not even a full-fledged journalist) who uncovers corruption in the Edison city police department’s “First Response Assault and Tactical” team. The lead is played by Justin Timberlake, of all people, and… his acting is about what you’d expect, which is to say, not much. Which is really disappointing considering the rest of the cast consists of such worthies as Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, LL Cool J (who plays the other lead, one of the cops, and does a good job), and Dylan McDermott, who steals the show as the truly psychotic cop Lazaroth. Bit parts are filled out by Cary Elwes, Piper Perabo, and other generally-recognizable actors.
Unfortunately, these actors aren’t given much to work with. The veteran actors all turn in good performances, and the lines are OK, but the plot leaves much to be desired. Let’s face it, when you’re doing a movie with this premise, there are a few ways you can go: Drama, action, suspense, or mystery. This movie really doesn’t succeed at any of that. I can’t care enough about Timberlake’s character for it to work as a drama, and it doesn’t seem to be going for that anyway. It’s also not really going for action. There is one action-y sequence towards the end, but mostly it’s pretty sedate… which also hurts it on the suspense part, because other than a few scenes, there’s no real sense that any of these characters are in any real danger. That leaves mystery. And this movie has none. We’re given the exact details on what’s going on right off the bat. We watch Pollack, Timberlake’s character, figure things out… but we already know. There’s no surprise there for us. No mystery, no suspense. Why are we watching? I can’t find an answer.
And that’s ultimately what sinks this movie. There’s really no reason to be watching it, because it desperately wants to be suspense movie but it fails to add any actual damned suspense. Even at the one point in the movie where there’s bullets flying everywhere, and Pollack could conceivably be hurt or killed… we don’t think he will be, because the movie had to comport to the action movie genre just enough to make LL Cool J’s character a super-badass with the weaponry, and even if Pollack did die, he’s already succeeded in getting the information about the corruption off to the major newspapers anyway, so we know he’s already met his goal. There’s nothing for us to worry about in this movie, so it fails as suspense, or drama, or mystery. And it’s too tame for an action movie.
It’s not a bad movie, but it’s just… pointless.