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4 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Edison Force
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by Matt Mulcahey

"Timberlake waves bye, bye, bye to a credible movie career."
2 stars

The sheer wattage of Edison Force’s impressive cast will probably sucker in a few renters unaware of its dubious reputation. Die hard fans of pop star Justin Timberlake may also be interested in the novelty of his unimpressive thespian debut. Those factions aside, I’m guessing the majority of Edison Force renters will be cinematic rubberneckers curious to see just how a $37 million flick with an A-list cast and a primo slot as the closing offering of the 2005 Toronto Film Festival ended up as a straight-to-video castoff.

Sony’s opinion of this ludicrous corruption thriller, shot in 2004 and shelved indefinitely following its post-Toronto critical mauling, is best summed up by the lone preview the studio chose to include on the film’s DVD – a trailer for Steven Seagal’s latest straight-to-video effort. Had Edison Force in fact starred Seagal, its amateurish cinematography, badly choreographed action scenes and ridiculous plotting wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow. But considering the budget and the pedigree of the cast, it’s somewhat of a mystery just how this flick ended up bearing a closer resemblance to Marked for Death than Serpico.

The Seagal-esque feel of Edison Force begins with its opening sequence as a generically shot bank heist gone awry ends with a rogue cop (played by a stubbled, crazy-eyed Dylan McDermott) pumping a round through a young woman’s shoulder with a high-powered sniper rifle at close range in order to conclude a hostage stalemate. McDermott is a member of the fictional titular city’s F.R.A.T. (First Response Assault and Tactical) squad, a tightly-knit coven of dirty cops lining their pockets by stealing loot from drug dealers and various other law breakers and then laundering the money through corporate and political interests. That lucrative set-up is threatened when McDermott’s morally conflicted new partner (LL Cool J) rouses the suspicion of an ambitious young reporter (Timberlake) working for a small-time community weekly newspaper.

The rest of the flick consists mostly of standard issue dirty cop flick plot mechanics as McDermott and F.R.A.T. head honcho John Heard use any means necessary (including an assault on Timberlake’s girlfriend Piper Perabo, who gets off easy by spending much of the film in a coma) to prevent Timberlake from completing and publishing his story

Morgan Freeman (as Timberlake’s boss, a Pulitzer-Prize winning photojournalist-turned-burnout whose backstory is one of many critical omissions) and Kevin Spacey (as a straight-arrow investigator in the District Attorney’s office) turn up long enough to collect a paycheck and spout off about journalistic integrity. Both deliver their platitudes with conviction, but it’s hard to take them seriously when the film concludes with a machine gun-wielding Timberlake and a flamethrower-toting LL Cool J shooting it out Seagal-style with a warehouse full of dirty coppers. The Seagal-like aura extends to Francis Kenny’s cinematography, which consist mainly of underlit interiors and overexposed exteriors awash in a pallid, muted green color scheme. That’s what happens when you let the DP behind From Justin to Kelly, How High and She’s All That lens an urban-set action fest.

So how did such a high-powered cast and a large budget end up allocated to this unmitigated straight-to-video disaster? There are only two reasons I can think of. Either the original script from writer/director David J. Burke bore a closer resemblance to a Sidney Lumet corruption expose than the B-movie action thriller Edison Force turned out to be, or Freeman, Spacey and company banked a buttload of greenbacks. Considering Freeman will appear in just about anything for the right amount of zeros (Hard Rain? Chain Reaction? Dreamcatcher? The Big Bounce?) and Spacey probably needs a few pesos for Old Vic renovations, I’m inclined to lean toward the latter.

Regardless of the actors’ motives, anyone planning on plopping down a five-spot for Edison Force on the strength of the cast alone should save their scratch. So should fans of Timberlake. He doesn’t sing, he doesn’t dance and he can’t even hold the screen opposite LL “Deep Blue Sea” Cool J. That leaves fans of celluloid train wrecks with a morbid curiosity as Edison Force’s only recommended demographic.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12872&reviewer=255
originally posted: 07/19/06 23:05:45
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/17/14 clay boring and stupid, some scenes so bad you have to skip them 2 stars
3/11/12 Jim Cunningham memorable and absorbing inspite in spite of the vilolence. 4 stars
4/15/07 Chris This was much better than I thought it would be. Nice to see Freeman & Spacey together. 4 stars
3/06/07 David Pollastrini Boooooring! 1 stars
2/08/07 David Pollastrini No wonder Britney dumped Justin 1 stars
1/16/07 ramius_rx morgan freeman's presence gives it realy good overall aspect. 4 stars
8/31/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen LL is good, but the rest is a preachy mess we've seen before 1 stars
8/30/06 Wendy Terrible, a shocking disappointment with such great actors. Blame the director and editor 1 stars
8/13/06 kelley pettis this was a really good action movie great stars 4 stars
4/29/06 Doug Not too bad, but average action film 3 stars
1/26/06 George Nedelchev Fine actors. Bad director. Worst screenplay ever. Historical flop. 1 stars
11/19/05 Bestit Wrong, Jackson, this is poop...and so are you. A big pile of poop. I hate you. 1 stars
11/18/05 Jackson A Pretty GOOD movie inspite of Justin T. 4 stars
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  18-Jul-2006 (R)
  DVD: 18-Jul-2006



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