Movie Review: Berenger and Gigandet disagree over a “Black Warrant”

Ever since “Platoon,” Hollywood has parked Tom Berenger behind a rifle. A string of “Sniper” movies, “Blood and Money,” assorted soldiers and shooters, on into his dotage. Sure, he’s done other films, but he’s the go-to guy when you cast an assassin, an ex soldier, an elderly hunter that bad guys under-estimate.

“Black Warrant” puts his eye to the scope one more time for a bad-guys-have-a-secret weapon thriller whose sloppy plotting causes it to bleed out in the second act, and whose lamer-than-lame “surprise twist” delivers the kill shot in the third.

Every scene in the third act goes a bit more wrong that the one that precedes it, and no amount of blandly-handled, poorly-set-up gunplay can save it.

It’s a B-action pic set in Tijuana, with the DEA chasing drug-connected mobsters who have gotten their hands on something that will “level the United States economy.”

Cam Gigandet plays a DEA agent whose partner is killed when they bust a Tijuana smuggling operation. One higher-level villain (Peter Nikkos) is caught, and he hints at something truly sinister his big boss, Hussein Bin Farri (Hani Al Naimi), is up to.

But for some other reason, some other Federal agency wants this witness dead. That’s how a grizzled control agent (Jeff Fahey) winds up at a swank Tijuana marina tracking down Nick Falconi (Berenger), a former government killer for hire, retired and living on a sailing yacht.

Here’s an odd thing about “Black Warrant.” We not only never learn why this other supposedly Federal entity wants a GOVERNMENT WITNESS dead. The reason for these “Black Warrants” is basically brushed-over as our shooter works his way up the villainous food chain, DEA be damned.

It makes less sense the longer this short and sloppy thriller goes on, because our hired killer apparently knows nothing about what the bad guys have acquired. Nor does the dude who commissioned the hit, so far as we can tell.

DEA agent Anthony joins Mexican cops on stake outs, trying to figure out what our villains are up to, only to watch them get shot up.

Anthony takes up with a cook (Helan Haro) whose help he enlists, who agrees to do it so that she can get into America’s CIA.

“The Culinary Institute of America,” Mina tells him. That’s her dream.

Great joke. About as great as all the other banter than ends up with them locking lips a scene or two later. Their scenes together are so badly blocked and scripted and shot that we think “zero chemistry” because we have no reason to think otherwise.

Berenger is never bad, and this white hair/biker’s Fu Manchu mustache he’s got going on works. Like Berenger, Gigandet, already in theaters in a scene-stealing turn in “Violent Night,” deserves better.

By the third act, everybody involved has just thrown up his or her hands as bad jokes find their way onto the set and into the script and the climax manages to be even more of a soggy tamale than everything that’s come before.

Tijuana isn’t used to great effect. But that’s a nice 44 foot sailing cutter they hired, I will say that. Too bad they never get it out of the marina. Perhaps they figured it’d sink like a stone, like the rest of “Black Warrant.”

Rating: R for violence, and language throughout

Cast: Cam Gigandet, Tom Berenger, Helan Haro, Hani Al Naimi, Peter Nikkos and Jeff Fahey.

Credits: Directed by Tibor Takács, scripted by D. Glase Lomond and Joshua A. Cohen. A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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