Sunday, June 19, 2011
I have been staring at a blank page with that movie poster for over an hour now. Words are fleeing my head in droves as I try to communicate the sheer madness I just witnessed. I know I absolutely loved Nemesis -- that much is certain. I know that it somehow spawned three sequels. I know there are plans to re-release it with new, state of the art special effects. These are the things I know. But, goddamn this movie. Goddamn, this movie. That is all I got swirling around my mind.
I am really tempted to just end this post right there. Maybe throw in a "see this movie right now" at the end. However, I don't know if it's the fact that my cognitive faculties are fried from Nemesis or the fact that I am incredibly lazy. And, come on, you know I gotta spray words on the internet so people will like me. It is an addiction.
Nemesis is about a cyborg cop from the future who stops being a cyborg cop and dicks around as a terrorist but then gets pulled back into being a cop but then becomes a terrorist again but not really a terrorist because the cops are evil and well, not really, just cyborgs who are trying to replace humanity for some reason are evil so the cyborg terrorist cop becomes a cyborg vigilante.
Yes, that is the simplest way to describe the plot. The run-on sentence is intentional because this movie switches up what it is about every ten minutes. I like to think, at one point, there was this coherent vision of a movie that actually made sense, but the director had the attention span of a gnat in heat and just decided to do whatever.I know I usually say that the plot doesn't matter in my other reviews, but in this movie, in the context of the story itself, that is absolutely true. This movie ain't give a flying fuck what it's about, it just wants to throw whatever it can against the wall and see what sticks. You could be watching this movie, walk away, then come back a half hour later and think you are watching an entirely different movie. It is gloriously inept. So, in lieu of giving you a plot description from point A to point B, I am just gonna talk about what happens in various chunks of this movie.
The flick opens with our hero, Alex, as a pretty sweet cyborg cop. He is played by Olivier Grunner, who's accent puts Van-Damme and Schwarzenegger to shame. It is downright indecipherable at times, and that adds to the charm, especially later on. Anyway, Alex looks like he is about to get it on with a foxy lady, but it turns out she is a criminal! And if there is one thing cyborg cop Alex hates, it's criminals. We know this because he spews out hilariously stilted one-liners such as "See? Laundering data can be dangerous. You break the law, you go to hell!" After that gem, a huge gunfight breaks out, and Alex fights more cyborg terrorists and rescues a puppy. He gets shot to pieces and has little metal bits sticking out while a lady terrorist keeps shooting like 3 inches to the left of him. He also gets scolded for being more machine than man by this lady, which, in retrospect, is stupid. He takes her down and all is right in the world.
The movie then jumps to six months later, and Alex is running in the desert with his fully grown puppy. That desert is also in Mexico, so he hangs out in a Mexican bar and shoots more terrorists only to find out it was a training exercise by the LAPD. We find this out because he is greeted by some foxy ladies, who also happen to be cyborgs. They say he totally passed the test, so, naturally he quits being a cop. Apparently, all the murdering of cyborgs has grown him a conscience. Also that scolding he got six months ago started sinking in. We know this because the sultry noir narrator tells us this.
Did I mention this is the second movie in two days with a ridiculous narrator? Maybe I should have. This time the narrator is a foxy lady we don't meet until this scene and don't see again until about an hour in the film. Yet she still knows everything about Alex.
The two cop cyborgs take umbrage with Alex leaving. The dog takes umbrage with them being pretty awful human beings. Or cyborgs. Whatever. So, they kill his dog. You almost thought they were going to be a team didn't you? Maybe the cyborg would learn what it is to be human by having a dog. Nope. Not in this movie. Fuck that dog.
The movie then jumps a year later, and Alex is now a cyborg terrorist. Well, really more of a smuggler, but he is smuggling for terrorists! We find out he is such a loose cannon, again through our narrator, that all his deals usually end up with people dead. Truly he is too radical. His latest deal has something to do with Japan and America and who cares, it ends up with him being shot when a cyborg's head splits open, revealing the first of many ridiculous concealed weapons in this movie.
So, Alex is captured and grows sweet Rambo hair. And it turns out that he had a bomb grafted to his heart, and is berated by a parade of accents from many lands to convince him to track down terrorists again. They want him for it, because, hey remember that narrator and one of the cyborg ladies we saw earlier that was gung ho about Alex being a cop? Turns out she was his ex-girlfriend and is now a terrorist! So, Alex has three days to track her down and stop her before he explodes. It is never said that they will stop him from exploding if he will, just that, at some point, he is going to explode. Really, explode is the key word to take from this whole bit, because man does this movie love to blow things up.
If I am being vague in describing things as they happened, I am just trying to mimic how nonsensical and out-of-left-field the entire movie is. I am trying to drag you, the reader, into this tangled, moronic web that is the plot of Nemesis. I can't simulate the viewing experience, but I can make you just as confused as I was watching it.
Somehow, in defiance of the altar of logic, the movie finds a way to go off the rails at this point. Alex fights thugs in the streets, befriends a Hawaiian mob, is stalked by a lady in a bikini, and then saves the world. Or something. Honestly, if your brain hasn't glazed over at this point, you are more machine than man. And for that, this movie hates you.
I have to lay off the plot at this point. I don't want to discourage anyone from seeing this by making it sound terrible. I mean, the script is god awful, there is no denying that, but that is what makes this movie so damn watchable. The script is an afterthought. The enjoyment that comes from this movie is not even remotely tied into the story. It is all about how insane any sequence can be at any given time. The plot is just molded around this mantra.
What makes Nemesis special is that it is sensational fireworks display of missed opportunities. Every time you think something could remotely matter or contribute to the momentum of the movie, it is taken out back and shot. Much like the dog. This movie just steadfastly refuses to have anything make sense. And if a beat happens to have an iota of coherency? Well, fuck you, we gon' nip this in the bud. It is astounding at how many squandered opportunities for depth this movie jettisons for a chance to see something else blown up.
And, explosions, my friend, are everywhere in this movie.
Seriously, every set that Alex leaves explodes. Anytime an action sequence ends, there is an explosion. When the main villain dies, he inexplicably explodes. Hell, half the guns in the movie shoot explosions. If you even bat an eye, and start to zone out of this movie, which you shouldn't, never you fear, an explosion will come along to drag you back in. Nemesis is a cavalcade of unnecessary and illogical explosions, and it is all the better for it. In all my life, I have never seen such wanton use of explosions, and, coming from a dude who has seen pretty much every action movie ever made, that is something.
Most of what makes this movie downright watchable is its unpredictability. Now, not being predictable is an asset to a taut thriller with twists and turns masterfully woven into the fabric of the story. Keeping the audience on its toes is tantamount to a murder mystery or a gripping plunge into international espionage. However, though you won't know what's coming next, it is still vital that what does happen next makes sense. In Nemesis, however, making sense is the last thing the plot is concerned with. It is just unpredictable for the sake of being unpredictable. It is almost a fever dream of twists that don't make a lick of sense but just explain why Alex isn't shooting the character he is talking to.
Okay, let me take a brief pause and talk about the gunplay in this movie. First of all, none of the guns makes realistic sounds, nor do the bullets fed into the guns do what a bullet should do. Secondly, The villains in this movie make Cobra from the old G.I. Joe cartoons look like crack snipers. There is a scene where the bad guy is no more than five feet from Alex, with a sub-machine gun, yet still manages to miss him completely. Not a single bullet fired from the entire clip hits him. Just like earlier in the movie, they all kinda hit slightly to the left of him.
Then, there's the scenes that make no sense even to the standards of this movie. I am not gonna list them all, as it spoils the surprise, but there's one I just gotta mention. There's a part, later in the movie, where an old lady is just kinda strolling along, and one of the evil cyborg cops is walking behind her. This old bitty pulls a .45 from her purse and fills that cyborg full of lead, all spouting nonsense about how cyborgs are evil. It comes completely out of left field, but then again, every beat in this movie comes completely out of left field.
But the real hilarity is in the feeble attempts this movie makes at depth. The message, if there is one, is that cyborgs are people too. However, the way this is rammed down the throats of the viewers is so profoundly incompetent, that you will burst out laughing every time it is mentioned. It is like a sixteen-year-old pyromaniac watched Blade Runner once and, by the fickle winds of fate, got to make a movie. And man, Blade Runner was so deep but there weren't enough gunfights or things on fire for it to really matter. That is the impression you get whenever the fumbled subtext oozes out like pus from an infected wound. Though I guess it isn't exactly subtext since it is all announced in dialogue like it ain't no big thing and people naturally talk like this.
I could expand on every single point I have made already and fill volumes on why Nemesis is one of the most preposterous and farcically insane movies ever made. Those words I mentioned earlier? The ones that were fleeing? Well, they all came flooding back in the second I started typing. I guess that is the power that Nemesis has. You think you have no idea how to describe what you saw, but the second you start, you want to extoll its absurd gospel until you are blue in the face and every word in the English language has been exhausted. But, deep down you will know you didn't even remotely do it justice.