UNTIL DEATH (2007)
Directed by Simon Fellows
This was a title I was very excited for, when the first pictures came in,
and the plot also made me hope for a dark, edgy action thriller, which it is , in parts.
Van Damme looks pretty cool as the drug-addicted detective with a mean streak.
Anthony Stowe is a tough detective on the streets of New Orleans( yet one more excuse for his accent, it never stops).
After trying to arrest the drug dealer Callaghan(Stephen Rea)( and failing miserably), Stowe has two dead undercover cops to his credit and most of his colleagues seem to hate him for that, but even before he wasn`t exactly everybody`s darling.
One of the victims of the bust gone wrong was the wife of another detective, who blames him for her death.
But he doesn`t take that shit and puts him in his place. (good scene).
Stowe also has to deal with his ex-wife and his heroin addiction, he nails prostitutes on pool tables and knocks out
people who wanna tow his car. So far, so good. Van Damme plays that role pretty convincingly, but sadly, the movie can`t keep its head above water. I´d say,. the beginning and the end are the weak points here. For a lot of the middle, this is really good, dark stuff, although some of the story feels very rushed.
A bit later he finds himself in a set-up, that ends for him with a bullet to the head.
He miraculously survives, and when he awakens from a coma, he changes into a nice guy, wanting to put things right.
Not only with his ex, but also with some colleagues. He doesn`t drink or drug himself anymore.(that may be a little hard to believe, but that`s the story).
Callaghan was very busy during his half-year in a coma,rising to the top spot of evil-doers in New Orleans.
Callaghan also kills his partner.
Fresh out of the coma, he still is after information about Callaghan, but also busy making up for his bad behaviour, walking the good guy route now. His young informant, who he kinda befriended before his coma, gets killed and his wife kidnapped. I forgot to mention, Callaghan was Stowe`s partner , back in the day, two bad cops, one being a bit badder. Stowe may have been the reason he got off the force, if there is an explanation in here, I missed it. By now, the film goes downhill, with a very simple stand-off in a warehouse, with a villain`s monologue that`s cringeworthy, even though delivered by a respectable actor. The shootout is half-assed, a really weak and low point of the film. I enjoyed it until now, but the scene in the warehouse is truly abysmal.
The film could`ve used a bit more of clever writing, but since Stephen Rea isn`t exactly physically imposing , and lacking martial arts skills, they seemed to have not been able to wrap it up but with a poor shoot-out in a warehouse.
I just found out that the european cut is different from the US cut(the only one I knew until today, since I never bothered to buy a german edition). Seems like the european cut has the end with Van Damme dying, plus a few alternate or extra scenes. Here, both die, shooting each other at the same time.(With two CGI cartridges flying around , so you don`t miss it)
Well, as I said, a lot of this film is pretty dark, and Van Damme really tries to act fucked up, which for the most part,worked well. But the rushed end at the warehouse eliminates much of the promising parts. Rea remains one-dimensional as the villain, that alone took a lot of the potential. A movie needs a good villain, or the whole thing is pointless. The dirty, mean and strung-out Van Damme was great to see, but the end lacked the punch, and ultimately drags this movie into dissapointing territory. Another thing , again, was Van Damme`s delivery of lines. He really needs to spit out his dialogue a bit more fluently, sometimes it truly hurts to hear him speak. But now it`s too late to invest into an english teacher. Just sayin`.
This could`ve been something, but the lack of care in writing, the lack of a good ending makes this a missed opportunity.
link to alternate scenes/ending: