a critiQal film review The Art Of War (2000)

  • DVD

Plot: When China's ambassador is assassinated, and the new trade agreement between China and the US looks to be on the rocks, covert United Nations agent Niles Shaw (Snipes) is blamed. Now, he's going to have use all of his training to bring the real culprit to justice.

582 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 54s)

When I first heard they had made a sequel to The Art of War, I was very surprised. Firstly, I didn’t think the first movie had hit as big as it’s star’s other film, – and secondly, isn’t Wesley Snipes doing time for some sort of tax evasion?

While I pondered these questions, the aforementioned sequel arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of Blockbuster.com. I knew, before watching this surprising sequel, that I had to re-watch the original. Luckily, I found it amongst the large movie collection we have, and settled down to watch it once more.

Is The Art Of War really good enough to spawn a sequel, or am I in for a long couple of days?

Wesley Snipes, while not quite up to par with his excellent take on Blade, does manage to have a few shining moments in The Art Of War. While most of the movie consists of him playing the strong silent type, seeing him in action in his job as a spy is still entertaining.

While he’s defying death and playing it suave, he comes off remarkably similar to classic spy movie guy James Bond. He’s definitely sloppier (he gets noticed and has to fight off the bad guys, rather than spending his time wooing the women), but he still brings a touch of the debonair to his spy gig.

Most of the bulk of the film, however, has him trying to solve a whodunit murder mystery – and, incidentally, trying to clear his name at the same time. While he isn’t bad in the role, it’s definitely not as eye-catching as his spy persona, and viewers may find the performance slightly lacking.

Maury Chakin, on the other hand, is much harder to pin down in The Art of War. As the apparent lead detective, he seems quite morose and downtrodden by his job, just doing his best to hang on until retirement. His lines are delivered with a grin as much as a grimace, giving the feeling he’s either disappointed with the script or is smiling because he already knows how this is all going to end.

It’s a bit peculiar, and the viewers will never really connect with his character thanks to that irregularity. Toss in some major leaps of his imagination that seem to have no basis in evidence (yet fully support the buried facts of the case), and viewers will be unsure if he’s supposed to be letting on he knows, or if the director just missed him making these giant leaps of logic.

Thankfully, the story, at least on the first run through, has a enough twists and turns to keep most guessing, so the slight disappointment of Wesley’s shift in character – not to mention the confusion associated with Maury’s cop – isn’t as bad as it could be. While most of the twists and turns are quite easy to figure out, and the plot is rather formulaic, the film puts in a few decent sequences to keep the viewer entertained throughout.

Unfortunately, the further the film goes, the more formulaic it becomes, and the ending plays out like a rather silly cliche, but the film has enough going for it that viewers won’t be complaining too much after the film comes to it’s close.

True, it’s no , but The Art Of War is a decent action flick nonetheless. Not perfect, and definitely has a slight dated feel to it, but definitely not some of Wesley’s worst work either.

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