Bad Ass is a revenge thriller without thrills, a caricature of a real movie, an amateurish attempt at best. The movie is from the director of such classics as Breaking Wind, Saving Ryan’s Privates and the esteemed The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It, which really says it all.
Bad Ass stars Danny Trejo as Frank Vega, a Vietnam vet who, having never been to college, has been shunned by society. One day, however, Frank takes down two thugs on a bus and his vigilantism is posted to YouTube, making him an instant star. But when his good friend is murdered, Frank reluctantly sets out to find the killers and bring them to justice.
Equipped only with his hardened face, a fanny pack and badass-ness, Trejo traipses from one awkward scene to the next, lost in a lost production. Trejo is awful, but to put the blame on his shoulders is wholly wrong. The entire production feels as though it was made by high school students working off a script written by elementary school kids, who snuck a look at Harry Brown and Gran Torino and decided, “How hard can it be?”
The dialogue is rudimentary, but director Craig Moss, who co-wrote the screenplay with first-timer Elliot Tishman, makes no attempt to have Bad Ass be a bad ass film. And that’s the real problem. There are small outbursts of violence, but the scenes are more comical than serious, with an aging Trejo and his fanny pack lumbering around. The movie is tonally off key the entire time, blending sappy narration with a silly and pitifully cliché plot. It isn’t clear whether the movie is supposed to be funny or not, but not once is Bad Ass exciting, suspenseful or good.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Machete, but at least that movie puts on display how Danny Trejo can indeed portray a bad ass. Bad Ass, meanwhile, seems to exist simply because someone received a few extra dollars from grandma and decided to buy a video camera. Avoid Bad Ass at all costs.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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