Its supporting characters, like beat cop Katarina Da Silva (Millie Ruperto), may insist that “the world isn’t always white-and-black . . . especially not in the favela.” But the Rio-set thriller Falcon Rising could easily be reset in Commando‘s fictional, monochromatic banana republic of Val Verde, as its creators fail to highlight the idiosyncrasies of its setting.
Both Commando and Falcon Rising follow burly American war vets who schlep out to third-world countries just to kill locals who have wronged the women they love. Here, ex-marine John Chapman (Black Dynamite star Michael Jai White) avenges his sister Cindy (Laila Ali), a social worker, after crooked cops put her in a coma. Chapman, a PTSD-afflicted Afghanistan vet, is our myopic window on Falcon Rising‘s world.
So it’s not surprising that all the Rio locals are either good/weak or weasely/adversarial. He dismisses sympathetic characters like Da Silva and CIA agent Manny Ridley (Neal McDonough) for being comparatively diplomatic (i.e. weak), and he barrels through everyone else. White is charming in spite of his character’s thuggish behavior.
He even sells a line as preposterous as “Hey, man, pool’s still open” when Chapman interrogates a heavy by dunking his head in a urine-filled toilet. But beyond isolated moments of dickish charm — and his climactic four-way fight involving a sword, a crucifix, and two steel pipes — Chapman just comes across like another pseudo-heroic American behaving badly abroad.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2014