The Detonator (2006) / Action-Thriller

MPAA Rated: R for violence, language and some nudity
Running Time: 91 min.

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Silvia Colloca, Warren Derosa, William Hope, Matthew Leitch, Florian Ghimpu
Director: Po-Chih Leong
Screenplay: Martin Wheeler
Review published April 21, 2006

The Detonator fits squarely into that category of films that, as a movie reviewer, I loathe to watch -- not good enough to keep my interest, not bad enough to make fun of.  Wesley Snipes has just about relegated himself into this realm almost exclusively for the last five years, starring in two or three action-thrillers a year with generic titles that end up going straight to video or debuting on some basic cable channel. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Wesley Snipes is a good, sometimes very good, actor, that has virtually pissed away his credibility making terrible movies because he loves being an action hero.  He loves it so much, apparently, that as long as he is the star and he gets a fat paycheck, he's willing to do just about anything, or go anywhere, to be involved in one.  Gone are the days of Jungle Fever, The Waterdance, White Men Can't Jump, and Mo' Better Blues.  For Snipes, this is a new era -- an era of interchangeable plots starring the same slick badass character -- The Marksman, 7 Seconds, Unstoppable, and Chaos, to name some of his more recent films that few have seen and even fewer can remember enough to be able to tell the difference between them.

The Detonator continues this trend of bland action vehicles, casting Snipes as covert CIA agent Sonni Griffith.  Sonni is in Romania to bring to justice one of Europe's most powerful arms dealers, except he gets called into the open when someone in his ranks drops a dime and informs the bad guys as to his intentions.  He manages to escape, but not before given one more mission: he has 48 hours to get the beautiful Nadia (Colloca, Van Helsing) out of harm's way and make it back to the US, before the arms dealer can get a hold of her for the information he needs for his largest coup. 

The production is hit-and-miss, impressive for a low budget feature, but still marred by a straight-to-video look and pacing that makes it obvious that this is a movie not intended for the big screen.  As with many films made recently on the cheap, this one is filmed in one of the Eastern bloc European countries (Romania here), featuring spotty acting, a mish-mash international crew, and plenty of unsavory scenery in and around the rundown streets of the city. 

Snipes is in sleepwalk mode throughout much of the movie, riffing off of the same stoic macho performance that he's been doing since Blade. He appears to be bored, but then, why not?  There is very little here for him to do except deliver lifeless dialogue and kick ass every once in a while.  However he may have felt about the experience, he won't be nearly as bored as most people in the viewing audience.

The Detonator is a real endurance test to watch - one of those 90 minute movies that seems like it is over three hours long.   It's never really out-and-out awful, but it's also completely devoid of anything to merit our attention, as we can only watch scene after scene go by without emotional or intellectual interest.  The Detonator is appropriately named; Wesley Snipes finds himself attached to yet another cinematic bomb.

Qwipster's rating:

2006 Vince Leo