by Daniel Baldwin
What do you get when you make an action film that combines Tom Berenger, Cam Gigandet, the director of The Gate, and a story by actor Michael Pare? You get an undercooked terrorism-themed actioner. You get Black Warrant.
The story follows two leads: Nick (Berenger) and Anthony (Gigandet). Nick is a long-since-retired CIA assassin that’s been pulled back into the field to take out three high-profile targets in Tijuana, Mexico. Anthony is a seasoned DEA agent following a trail of breadcrumbs toward the same sinister folks in the wake of a bust gone bad.
If you’re thinking the two are eventually going to come together to take out their mutual enemies, you’re right. If you’re thinking that the film also holds a really big & silly twist, you’re also right. This is bog-standard, trope-filled stuff that is content to never rock the boat throughout on a narrative level. You’ve seen this before and you’ve seen it done better.
The good news is that, even after 20 years of working in DTV action, Tom Berenger still isn’t phoning it in. He gives Nick doses of humanity that you don’t often see in films of this type. He manages to be charming enough in the role that one doesn’t mind as much that he’s clearly too old to be playing it. One would assume that an earlier version of the project was meant to star the aforementioned Pare instead. Given that he’s a decade younger than Berenger, he might have been a better fit on an action level, although perhaps not a performance one.
Gigandet is equally engaging as Anthony, giving the film another performance that it doesn’t really deserve. The movie also gets an extra bit of swagger in the form of a cameoing Jeff Fahey. The cherry on top, however, is Helena Haro as female lead Mina. A chef pulled into the middle of all of this insanity, she is the shining beacon of light at the center of this otherwise lackluster affair. Haro is beaming with excitement and charm in almost every scene. She’s a breath of fresh air and her chemistry with Gigandet somehow manages to make their poorly-sketched romance work.
If it weren’t for the cast, the writing and pacing issues would utterly sink this. Black Warrant may not be a terrible film, but everyone involved has done better work elsewhere. DTV action die hards might find things to like, but all others should steer clear.