Movie News & Reviews

Someone should have backed down

I suspect that sometime in the near future the scenario in the adage "Give a monkey a typewriter and. ..." will actually happen. Studio executives tired of dealing with the diva whims of writers and directors will find a group of trained chimps and force them to crank out a film.

I also suspect the resulting film will show more imagination than the 110-minute waste of your life that is "Never Back Down."

Hastily thrown together to cash in on the popularity of Ultimate Fighting and Mixed Martial Arts spectacles, "Never Back Down" is not only witless and formulaic but inherently reckless and dangerous for its target teen audience.

The movie emphasizes brawn over brain, glorifying violence and pandering to the worst primal impulses of testosterone-filled teens with not even a whit of a moral lesson.

Peppered with a cast of bland pretty boys and girls culled from TV soapers, "Never Back Down" spins the tired tale of troubled teen Jake Tyler (Tom Cruise impersonator Sean Faris). Jake relocates to a high school in Orlando where it seems that everyone has perfect teeth and lives in a mansion.

On his first day, he stumbles on an underground fight club led by cocky stud Ryan McCarthy (Cam Gigandet), who surprisingly has not a single scar or bruise on his perfect face and body.

Catching the eye of blond baby doll Baja Miller (a stupefyingly wooden Amber Heard), who happens to be Ryan's girlfriend, Jake is lured into a bare knuckle fight with Ryan to test his mettle.

Of course, he is beaten silly by the superior skills of Ryan and skulks home to nurse his wounds. Baja (groan) takes a shine to Jake, and the inevitable showdown is just around the corner.

Before the requisite fight can occur, Jake is taken by his goofy new bud Evan Peters (mildly amusing Max Cooperman) to a local gym (how convenient) run by intense martial arts master (there's one in every town) Jean Roqua (a sweaty and paycheck grabbing Djimon Hounsou).

There, with slo-mo sequences and stirring emo songs on the soundtrack, Jake is made into a better person and a lean, mean butt-kicking machine. Never back down, Jake, never back down!

Unfortunately, our young Jake decides to not participate in the big tournament at the local rave club where every year amateur warriors throw down. He will not use his kung fu for evil.

However, after Ryan beats the Ritalin out of nerdy Evan and puts him in the hospital, Jake goes all Rocky and heads into the fray with a weepy Baja (groan) in tow. You'll never guess what transpires.

The paint-by-numbers script is written by Chris Hauty, who penned "Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco."

The directing honors go to robot Jeff Wadlow, who gave the world the equally hackneyed teen slasher "Cry Wolf."

The real criminals behind this "Save the Last Karate Kid to Step Up and Stomp the Yard" atrocity are the producers who bankrolled this slop with no regard for the consequences.

You have only to search "fights" on YouTube to see young people maiming and pummeling each other for "entertainment." True Ultimate Fighters and Mixed Martial Arts practitioners are highly trained and battle in controlled circumstances.

Thus, aside from "Never Back Down" being a truly bad film, it's a blatantly irresponsible impetus for impressionable youths to severely injure one another.

To make such a cash-craving threat to public safety is inexcusable.

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