Have you been watching season two of “Genius,” the National Geographic TV mini-series built on Antonio Banderas‘s superb rendition of Pablo Picasso? Yeah, he’s too tall, but the Spanish master brilliantly portrays pugnacious, egotistical and short in playing another Spanish master.
Every time I see Banderas, I wonder why Hollywood and European cinema haven’t made better use of him.
I mean, if Tarantino can resurrect the acting dead, if George Lucas had the good sense to bring Billy Dee Williams into the “Star Wars” universe, surely somebody has a great idea or three of how to use the smoldering Spanish hunk with the best growl in the movies.
B-movies like “Acts of Vengeance” and “Bullet Head” aren’t so much released as “escape,” even if they’re worth tracking down.
“Security” is the sort of film we’re seeing Banderas in too often these days, a heavyweight punching below his weight.
He plays a military vet — a retired captain — in search of a job doing “anything” after a life in the service.
“We just don’t have anything in your skill set, at the moment.”
Divorced, “my wife and my kid are two states away,” broke and driving a beater, Eduardo “Eddie” Deacon cannot get a break. Minimum wage security jobs are all that’s available to a guy who off his “psyche eval clearance” box on employment applications.
“Just an oversight, I’m sure.”
When a U.S. Marshals witness transport is attacked, you can bet your B-movie dollars tat the bad guys will end up crossing paths with ol’Eddie, his “special skills” and any problems that “psyche eval” might have revealed.
It all goes down at the mall, where Eddie’s an after-hours “mall cop,” flinching at the sound of the thunderstorm outside, trying to fit in with dorky dead-enders who share the job, ignoring the pretty Ruby (Gabriella Wright) who sleeps through the shift and collects a check — for being pretty — trying not to laugh when idiotic-hairstyle boss Vance (Liam McIntyre) waves around the taser that is their only armament.
Five man night crew for a mall? Hmmm, Eddie wonders. As do we. “A whole lotta meth” is the explanation.
And then the missing “witness,” a tweenage girl, Jamie (Katherine De La Rocha) shows up, hysterical, at their padlocked glass doors. Followed by kindly old Ben Kingsley, looking for his “daughter.”
Suspicious Eddie is not having it. And soon, the mall crew is up to its eyeballs in bribe offers and heavily armed gangsters.
“You getting rich, or every last one of you dying horribly.” Quite the choice.
Eddie makes the call, and “Your country thanks you for your service.”
Bad guys in trenchcoats flood the zone, “not in-bred mouth-breathers,” Boss Ben insists. This remote mall is about to turn into a combat zone.
“For now, time is our enemy,” Eddie purrs. “Let’s make time our friend.”
Let’s raid mall stores and fortify this beast like a “Braveheart” castle. One improbable to impossible “escape” follows another.
The kid? She’s testy, streetwise and annoying.
“Don’t talk to me like I’m a child. One more thing, you have to promise to protect me. Pinky swear!”
Kingsley stands very still, looks very stern and bites off chewy orders to his merciless minions.
“Get it cleaned up.” “Clear the food court.” “Scorched Earth. Nobody gets out alive.”
Ruby? She wakes up.
The good guys “buy time” retreating from store to store, level to level, “hurt them, if you have the chance.”
Banderas commits to the part, as always. Eddie gets a few bad-ass moments, takes a few beatings. And yet, he persists.
Yeah, this is a little too R-rated “Mall Cop” for its own good. The mall as combat zone set up is fun, the DIY booby-traps and “bombs” have just enough “MacGuyver” about them to hold our attention. And the leads are old hands at keeping that sense of urgency in their moments even if the director doesn’t share that “We’re running out of time” tension with the rest of the shuffling along baddies.
Aside from that, “Security” is just an illogical, cheesy and bullet-riddled B-movie, even in its best moments. You can see why it merited little if any theatrical release.
What you can’t see is why Banderas, and let’s throw in Kingsley, can’t find more meaningful work than this, or better investment advisors who’d allow them to turn down a job, every now and then.
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Ben Kingsley, Katherine de la Rocha, Jiro Wang, Cung Le, Liam McIntyre, Gabriella Wright
Credits:Directed by Alain Desrochers, script by Tony Mosher. A Millenium release.
Running time: 1:31