Netflixable? Josh Duhamel struggles to get his memory back after his “Blackout”

I’m all for everyone working as long as they’d like, doing whatever they love so long as they can still get the job done. But Nick Nolte as a DEA field agent, fighting the drug wars along the border? The highest mileage 81 year-old on the face of the Earth? That’s a bit of a reach. I mean, it’s obvious why they wanted him, and not just the Nolte “name” to help get “Blackout” financed and filmed. Sure, his voice is shot and has a bit of a quavering shake to it. But if you’re looking for a character who gets good and irked when an undercover agent played by Josh Duhamel has had a car crash and lost his memory and is trapped in some sort of clinic with armed goons coming at him from every side, not everybody can bark these lines to a subordinate with the comical gravitas of Ol’Man Nolte.”How many 6’3″ Ken dolls just SHOW up, with bumps on their heads, within a 100 mile radius of Tucson, north OR south of the border? C’MON! What do I PAY you for?”

It’s a somewhat dimwitted thriller, sloppily plotted. But the fights are pretty good — and there are a LOT of them. And Duhamel always gives fair value, even in a B-picture.

He plays John Cain, who somehow survives a point blank range machine gunning of his car, which then rolls in what appears to be the very definition of an “unsurviveable” wreck. That’s the “Ken doll” who wakes up not remembering who he is.

There’s a doctor with a Hispanic accent who is fond of giving him injections, and who diagnoses him with “post traumatic amnesia.” There’s a blonde (Abbie Cornish) who says she’s his wife.

But he’s not buying that. And those orderlies. They look like extras from a drug wars movie. And so they are. John has to fight off that next injection and punch, choke, stab and shoot his way out of this Sonora clinic because somebody — maybe several somebodies — want him. And not all of them want him alive.

Omar Chaparro gets into playing cartel captain Eddie, maybe a little too into Eddie. Eddie’s full of threats and does that villainous sing-songy thing when he’s trying to cajole John into remembering and helping him find something, or into giving himself up so they can inject him some more.

Eddie likes his shirts dark and his overcoats slung over his shoulders, like a Bond villain, Deutsche banker or ballet artistic director.Cliches abound in this nicely claustrophobic and mercifully brief slug-fest. Basically, all John does is try to get out of that clinic and reach out to people who might have known him, including the dogged DEA man hellbent on tracking him down.The stunts — Alex Krimm was the LA stunt coordinator, with Julian Bucio in charge south of the border — are good enough to make 50 year-old Duhamel a credible action star and make us believe Cornish is not to be trifled with either. But the long list of effects credits point to the trickery it takes to have a guy who allegedly just groggily staggered out of a hospital bed run up a wall or plunge into a little parkour.

You watch junkfood like “Blackout” for the fights, and room by room, rooftop to basement, ER cubicle to kitchen, there are a lot of them.

Don’t expect much out of the story. And cherish Nolte while we’ve got him. Neither he nor Keith Richard is going to live forever, no matter how things look.

Rating: TV-MA, violence, profanity

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Abbie Cornish, Omar Chaparro and Nick Nolte.

Credits: Directed by Sam Macaroni, scripted by Van B. Nguyen. An XYZ film on Netflix.

Running time: 1:22


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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