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“Pretty good, but needs to get to the…ah, point quicker.”

Two gangsters are having a discussion in a sauna, when they are brutally attacked by Raina (Katic), the former girlfriend of one. The Mexican is almost decapitated; the other, Greek mob boss Virgil Vadalos (Berenger) is gutted, but survives. He vows to track down his ex-squeeze and unleashes his forces to do so. They include the near-psychotic Lee (Biehn), who has just returend from London with an even more insane sidekick, plus dirty cop Beck (Sloan), who owes Vadalos a favour, and is involved in the investigation from the inside. Keeping those aspects separate becomes more difficult, as the waters become increasingly muddied as more bodies show up, murdered with the titular weapon, the Mexican’s colleagues plot their own revenge, and there’s also the tricky matter of several million dollars in cash which has gone missing.

Quite an impressive cast of (admittedly, second-tier talent) assembled here: outside those already mentioned, Kelly Hu, Tom Sizemore, Dominique Swain, James Franco and D.B. Sweeney all meander across the screen. That, actually, is perhaps part of the problem here: it’s a movie that is likely guilty of trying to cram too much in. It feels overstuffed with both plot threads and characters, which leads to some underdevelopment of both, and that’s a shame, as there are more than enough interesting elements in both to hold your attention. Raina’s motivation isn’t revealed until well into the second half, but makes more than sufficient sense, and it’s wise of the makers to establish her bad-ass credentials right at the beginning. The violence to be found here is both startling and brutal – Lee’s fate is certainly one we’ll remember for a while.

However, as noted, the film seems uncertain of its grounding. Thst’s particular true during the middle, when Raina’s lethal force takes a back seat to the kind of criminal shenanigans, betrayal and back-stabbing with which we’re all overly familiar, and which is much less interesting. Debit points are also due for cover art which, as shown below, shows the heroine wielding a gun, definitely not her weapon of choice. I’m going with our pic on the right, as much more accurate. But, all told, this was better than I was expecting, and actually delivers on the spirit of the cover, if not perhaps the specific details.

Dir: Nick Vallelonga
Star: Stana Katic, Paul Sloan, Tom Berenger, Michael Biehn

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