Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who would win...Lennox Lewis or Roger Daltrey? Johnny Was (****4/10)

In a boxing ring, Lewis. Singing Won't Get Fooled Again? Daltrey. Acting in Johnny Was? Neither, really. Lennox Lewis plays a rastafarian DJ, running a pirate radio station in a slum apartment in London, right above Vinnie Jones' flat. Eriq LaSalle (from ER) is a violent heroin dealer, also a Rastafarian, living downstairs from Vinnie Jones' flat. And Roger Daltrey plays the ringleader of a former IRA bombing organization. You see, Vinnie Jones used to be in the IRA. And he was a chemist...of some kind. He and his partner Flynn made bombs. Now Jones has been laying low in London for several years, hiding out and leading a quasi-normal life. Then Flynn breaks out of prison, and comes to hide out at his flat, which causes problems with the drug dealer living downstairs. Some stuff happens, a lot of it is violent, and then there is a conclusion to the movie, as there is in most movies.

Lewis, as a Rastafarian DJ, is less than convincing. I guess all you need to be a Rasta is the vocabulary. He says all the right things. "Jah", "I and I", and "Haile Selassie". Apparently these are the only things he is able to say, because Rastas never have more than an eleven word vocabulary. His Jamaican accent is halfway decent, but his character is amazingly unconvincing (especially at the end of the film, when he shows up in a location he couldn't possibly have known about, and does something that seems totally inexplicable). Daltrey is in the movie a bit less, and all HE has to do is look mean and talk tough. Which he does fairly well - at least he doesn't have to fake a British accent - but again, his character is fairly implausible, and does a few completely inexplicable things as well. The least Johnny Was could have done would have been to put some Who songs on the soundtrack!

Johnny Was is so standard, so cookie-cutter, that they seemed to think they could just cram anyone they ran across into some of the bigger roles. Perhaps they were fans of boxing and the Who, and just wanted to work with these people. Also occupying a major role is Samantha Mumba, a hottie who is one of the biggest singers in Ireland. Also, not an actor. She plays a former nurse who is now a junkie, and she also is never convincing, and she also does some things that are inexplicable. The only actor in the movie who is convincing is Vinnie Jones himself, and even HE does some inexplicable things. Which is not to say the movie doesn't make sense. It plods along, going from plot point to plot point, and you always know what's going on. It isn't confusing. It is merely the actions of the characters themselves that make no sense. No human being in the situations they are in would do the same things these characters do. Example: Roger Daltry tells Flynn he will transport him to a safe house. So he arranges to meet him at a deserted warehouse. But really, he wants to kill Flynn. And in order to do so, he has installed a sniper in that warehouse before Flynn got there. And then, instead of just having that sniper kill Flynn, which is why he's there, Daltrey walks in with a massive machine gun, and announces that he is there with the intent to murder. Not only does that make the sniper totally useless, but one would question Flynn's judgement for attending one of those deserted-warehouse-meetings to begin with.

Johnny Was is not a painful watching experience, just a profoundly dissatisfying one. Not only is it powerfully unoriginal, just about no one in the film is an actual actor, and you can see it right away. As for Daltrey-Lewis, I will give the acting title to Daltrey, simply because he is adequate. Lennox Lewis is not adequate. He is bad. For the best Roger Daltrey movie, check out "The Kids Are Alright" or "Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who". At least he is good at playing himself. For the best Lennox Lewis movie, check out "ESPN Sports Century". Don't check out "Johnny Was".

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