John Chapman (Michael Jai White) is an all-around bad ass. An ex marine suffering from PTSD, the only enemy he can’t seem to defeat is his own mind. When his sister (Laila Ali) turns up left for dead in the Brazilian slum where she was doing social work, he pushes his own demons aside to hunt down hers. Neal McDounough and Lateef Crowder also appear in this martial arts actioner.
When John’s old army buddy (McDounough) who works at the US consulate in Brazil finds his sister beat to a pulp in the favela where she was helping the locals, John takes things into his own hands, despite the fact that local law enforcement (including Crowder) assure him they will do all they can. Soon he finds himself unraveling the world of drugs, prostitution, and corruption that put his sister in a coma. Somebody doesn’t want her telling anyone what she found out and it’s up to her brother to find out what she knew and who tried to kill her for that knowledge before it’s too late.
Following the guidebook of cliches like holy scripture, Falcon Rising hits them all. From the hero with the troubled past to the obviously crooked cops. Despite being a detective story, little effort is put in adding any mystery to what the answers are. Hints are laid down thick like shag carpet and nobody but our hero is surprised at the twists and turns. That would be fine if the film holds up as a martial arts spectacle. You only need the most basic of plots to hold together a film where hand to hand combat is the real star. Too bad most of the fights are sadly laughable, overly choreographed, and not very exciting. There are a few here and there that are pretty impressive, but instead of just letting the capable action stars and stunt men do their thing, the film tries to contrive a grandiose plot. It just doesn’t work.
When we’re not laughing (in a bad way) at the plot and action, we’re treated to a slew of stereotypical characters including the Mexican detective who seems to care way too much about one American social worker, the US government type whose hands are mostly tied, the female Asian assassin, and the Yakuza with bad tattoos and worse goatees.
Clearly this film is attempting to set up a franchise based off the series of books where the character of John “Falcon” Chapman originates. No matter what the budget, I can’t see this film making enough back to justify continuing in that direction. His adventures would have been much better suited to a television series in the vein of Burn Notice where the lower budget would be less noticeable and we could have the option of either developing the characters over a long period of time, or opting for weekly throwaway action fun with a new mission each time. Either option would be a better idea than this weak film.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Two out of five hats
Falcon Rising ascends to a limited theatrical release and VOD September 5th