'Ninja' a boring blood bath
STARRING: Naomie Harris and Rain
RATED: R for nonstop butchery
RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 33 minutes
On the long list of things the world doesn't need any more of - bank failures, global warming, and a handsome teenager who turns into Frankenstein in the next "Twilight" movie - we need to add bad movies with the word "ninja" in the title.
There has never been a good one, and the streak continues with "Ninja Assassin," which hits the trifecta: It's a gore fest, a bore fest and a snore fest.
It's also a bizarre career move for director James McTeigue, who directed one of the best movies of the decade ("V for Vendetta") and now follows that up with one of the worst of the year.
I assumed he must have written "Ninja Assassin," thinking that only someone misguided enough to write such nonsense could be persuaded to direct it. But no, he chose it: Yeah, yeah, a ninja who goes around killing everybody, that's the ticket. Nobody's ever thought of that one before, right?
This one's bad even by ninja movie standards.
Naomie Harris plays an Interpol researcher in Berlin who stumbles upon evidence suggesting that a ninja assassin ring is behind a series of recent assassinations. So she gets on the case, just in time to be interrupted by a series of long, long, long flashbacks in which we see the training of a very special ninja named Raizo (the Korean actor, Rain).
"Suffering exists because weakness exists!" his Zen Master/assassin trainer tells him.
By the way, amazing dialogue: You know things are going to be bad when, in the movie's first scene, ninjas show up to kill a gang leader, and he actually says, "You don't have to do this. Whatever they're paying you, I'll double it."
Imagine, a pair of screenwriters actually wrote that, either thinking they were coming up with something original - in which case, they're stupid - or not caring that this line is from 10,000 other movies - in which case, they have contempt for their work or their audience, or both.
Anyway, soon enough, our ninja assassin goes rogue and hooks up with the Interpol researcher to defeat the ninja gang, meaning that, for a good long while, we're treated to scenes in which young Raizo has to kill 25 to 30 ninjas at the same time.
McTeigue must know that the script is weak, so he lavishes time on the fight scenes . . . and renders them excruciatingly tiresome.
Just one example: Raizo is about to get into a car with the researcher and drive off, but wait: Two dozen ninjas show up. Of course, we know that Raizo can't get killed, so to stretch that fight sequence to 15 minutes is just an agony of delay. It's not action, but the opposite of action. The movie is standing still, while the camera shakes and the sound of butcher knives going into meat is played again and again over the sound track.
There are lots of meat-slicing sounds in "Ninja Assassins," by the way, as well liquid dripping sounds, meant to indicate blood. It's hard to know how this movie constitutes entertainment, even bad entertainment.
Multiple heads, arms and legs are sliced off. I just never knew disgusting could be so dull.