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Operation: Endgame





(OUT OF 10)

Shortly after this movie started, I had no idea why it was basically a straight-to-video release. The setup is funny, and the cast is stellar.

But after the first 15 minutes or so, everything goes to hell.

A great collection of performers was assembled for this messy mixture of comedy and thriller. Rob Corddry, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Ellen Barkin, Joe Anderson, Jeffrey Tambor, Bob Odenkirk and Maggie Q are all onboard, but they're set adrift in a movie that has nothing of quality to give them. The plot involves some sort of scenario in which two teams of assassins working in the same headquarters must square off against each another before the place blows up. It's a ludicrous, pointless exercise.

Corddry fares the best as Chariot, a once-great assassin who is now an alcoholic sipping whiskey out of a gun-shaped flask. I'm convinced Corddry is equally adept at comedy and drama, and serious filmmakers should sign this guy up right now. This movie is terrible, but he can't be faulted; he elevates his scenes above the muck that surrounds him.

The film is an endless barrage of assassins fighting one another for reasons that never make any real sense. The large cast is killed off quickly and unceremoniously, giving most of the participants little time to establish themselves.

How first-time director Fouad Mikati managed to get such a great group of people to star in such shit is beyond me. Nothing about the script could've ever been promising. Maybe he got Galifianakis to sign up first, and everybody just wanted to work with that funny guy with the beard from The Hangover.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Don't waste your time watching the alternate openings and ending. The behind-the-scenes footage offers no sense of direction—much like the movie.

Lock Up (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This goofy prison drama came out during the first real lull in Sylvester Stallone's career, after Rambo III and before Rocky V and his forays into comedy (Oscar; Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot). While it can't be called a good film by any stretch of the imagination, it is kind of fun to go back and watch some pure Sly trash.

Stallone plays Frank Leone, a generally swell guy who is serving some easy time on an assault charge. (Hey, the guys deserved it!) His prison stay got a little longer because he broke out for a friend's funeral after the warden (Donald Sutherland) wouldn't give him a day pass. Now, with just six months to go, Sutherland seizes Frank and throws him into a new prison—a real shithole, where he will serve hard time.

One of the great things about Stallone is how seriously he took all the stuff he did in the '80s, whether it was a dumb prison story or a heart-wrenching story about arm-wrestling truckers (Over the Top). Stallone is all in, and it helps you get over how stupid the movie really is.

Because he could get anything he wanted at the time, Survivor and Bill Conti contribute to the soundtrack, as they did on the Rocky films. Look for Tom Sizemore, possibly high on crack, as one of the prison inmates. Sutherland has done some bad films, but he has never been worse than he is in this movie.

I got some sick pleasure out of watching this. I'm a sucker for Stallone, and I'm proud to admit it. Bring on The Expendables on Aug. 13!

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some old, creaky features held over from a previous DVD edition, including behind-the-scenes footage and a dated profile of Stallone.

Johnny Handsome (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This movie was made way back when Mickey Rourke was handsome, and Ellen Barkin was the queen of the scrunchy-faced blondes (before Renée Zellweger showed up on the scene).

Rourke plays the title character, a petty criminal who got his name from his disfigured face. He looks and sounds a little like the Elephant Man, or Eric Stoltz's character from Mask. After a heist gone wrong, during which his best friend is killed, Johnny goes to prison, where a nice doctor (Forest Whitaker) offers to fix his face. Paroled from prison, Johnny takes a normal job and plots revenge against those who double-crossed him (Barkin and an annoying Lance Henriksen).

Director Walter Hill took a lot of flak when this film was originally released, but it has aged fairly well. Morgan Freeman is good as the lawman who doubts Johnny's integrity, and Scott Wilson makes a mark in a small role as Johnny's friend.

Yes, this film's existence is a bit funny, considering that Rourke actually went on to ruin his beautiful face with plastic surgery in the 20 years since. It's sort of a reverse scenario of this film's plot.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Some disposable and dated featurettes.

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