by George Wolf
After nearly an hour of valiantly struggling to find depth in a character written mainly in cleavage, actress Allison Paige does get to deliver the most truthful moment in Bennett’s War.
“The sponsors are all men and I have boobs!”
Writer/director Alex Ranarivelo may have just been trying for funny, but in this drawerful of ten thousand shallow spoons, the line is a self-aware knife.
Sophie (Paige) needs those sponsors for her husband Bennett’s (Michael Roark) motocross team to finally go pro. Bennett had been a promising young racer before he joined the Army Rangers, but the bum leg he came home with carried a warning Ranarivelo thinks we don’t quite get the first three times we hear it.
“No unnecessary risks, or you’ll never walk again!”
Oh, and Bennett’s dad (country singer Trace Adkins) is going to lose the family farm.
So Bennett has to race again, dammit, it’s who he is!
Ranarivelo has made a career out of what are essentially middle school sports dramas for the big screen. The heroes and villains are drawn in the most easily identifiable colors, with the stakes repeated as often as the dumbed down exposition.
There are issues here (the struggles of veterans and/or family farmers) that have merit, but exploring them is not Ranarivelo’s M.O.
The only real surprise is that no one yells “Put him in a body bag!” before our injured hero takes the bad guy down with a surprise move at the big competition.