“Time for this cat to be put out.”
The original Cat Run was an unexpected pleasure, lifted far above its expected delivery of slick, vapid entertainment by Janet McTeer’s wonderful turn as polite hitwoman Helen Bingham. The sequel lacks McTeer and it’s no surprise that this time, it is no more than slick, vapid entertainment. Leads Anthony (Mechlowicz) and Julian (McAuley) are back, still dabbling in private eye work, and end up in New Orleans after Julian’s cousin, a soldier, is involved in a strange incident at an army research base. Two hookers, brought in for the pleasure of the officers, turn out to be on a mission to steal secret blueprints: one is gunned down, but the other, Tatiana (Zoli) escapes, and a cover-up is instigated by the military. The more our heroes dig, the worse things get, as they attract the attention of the criminal cartel behind Tatiana, led by Hannah Wollcroft (Branch).
Unfortunately, the makers retained the most irritating part of the original – the two main characters, who remain as blandly irritating as they were previously, delivering the sort of witty banter between friends which only occurs in movies like this. To little or no purpose, they also lob in a meandering, weak subplot about Anthony opening a restaurant and needing to find his inner soul in order to win a televised cooking contest. I’d rather have had more sequences of naked, cybernetically-enhanced Eastern European assassins kicking ass: while your mileage may vary, I suspect I’m not alone there. Zoli does her best, yet is certainly well short of McTeer, even if the script tries to give her the same kind of character arc, and the story does provide her character with a spot more background then usual. Then, at the end, for some reason the script decides it wants to be Iron Man. I’m sure there’s a world in which that story decision made sense.
Still, there are moments which work, such as the the sequence where Tatiana has to take on a ninja posse while simultaneously distracting a guy she picked up speed-dating. It’s clear Stockwell has seen far too many badly-dubbed kung-fu flicks, and I’m right alongside him there. When it isn’t trying too hard, and the film is content to be that slick, vapid entertainment I mentioned, it’s fair enough, with some well-staged action such as a hovercraft chase through the bayou, and a solid sense of atmosphere and location, not present in the original. However, the absence of McTeer leaves a gaping hole, and helps explain why this is a significant step down in almost all other ways.
Dir: John Stockwell
Star: Scott Mechlowicz, Alphonso McAuley, Winter Ave Zoli, Vanessa Branch