Listen: I’m a sucker for cheesy action movies. Yet there are more choices than ever, with Netflix and Prime and Disney+++ and the Magnolia Channel Presents: Die Hard at Thanksgiving, Turkeys!
So the cheese better not be moldy, stale, and something we could have any old time. The cheese should be GOOD.
Not great. Not “this thing better win an Oscar.” It should be a fun two hours of your life where you forget that the world is on fire and the oceans are rising and Alex Jones has fans who actually listen to his show, then buy his brain pills.
DAY SHIFT is a new action movie on the Netflixes, which you have even if you won’t admit it, and no, the fact that you are too cool to own a television doesn’t mean we don’t know you watch all kinds of shows on your phone and laptop.
Here’s the trailer:
Jamie Foxx is a believable protagonist, an everyman hero with an extraordinary job. The private stakes are clear: unless he comes up with serious cash in a hurry, his ex-wife will move to Florida along with their daughter.
The movie spends real time establishing this instead of featuring another fight with vampires, and good on them.
Jamie’s character is a flawed man, somebody who keeps screwing up again and again, yet he never gives up. It’s admirable.
The climactic fight with the Big Bad Vampire Boss doesn’t cheat. The vampire is much faster and stronger, and realistically beats the snot out of our hero. He only beats her using brains and a gadget/trick shown in the first scene.
Not too shabby.
How the movie depicts this character is also endearing, for an action movie, in that he isn’t invincible at all. This is a human being who struggles and often nearly loses fights, if not his life.
Contrast this with CARTER, another recent movie that’s somewhat similar in having a singular POV hero fighting a horde of the undead, this time zombies.
Do I adore zombie movies? Hell yes. Did I turn off this movie a third of the way in? Also yes.
I hit the KILL MOVIE button after a scene where the hero, wearing only a g-string, fights and kills six bazillion gangsters and zombies in a sauna, slicing and dicing them all. Kinda not kidding about the number of baddies. Six bazillion may be an underestimate.
Here’s the deal: in thrillers and action movies, less is often more.
It is far, far more enjoyable to watch the hero fight ONE amazing villain (Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, you get the idea) than mow down 20 or 200 or 2,000 interchangeable storm troopers, vampires, zombies, or robot ninjas.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK, AND HOW TO FIX IT
The villain — The connection between the villain and our hero is a little meh. The old grandma vampire he kills in the first scene turns out to be the Big Bad Vampire Lady’s daughter, which we hear about kinda halfway through the movie.
A five-second addition to the first scene would have made a nice straight line from the villain to the hero by showing her giving grandma/daughter a hug or kiss before she hopped into her SUV and drove off to work.
Hollywood ending times two — Hey, I loved Snoop Dogg in this movie, but his sacrifice to save the hero doesn’t fly if he somehow survives. Felt tacked on, like they’re planning a sequel. Also, it would be enough that our hero wins the day and keeps his daughter (and ex-wife) from moving to Florida, so having them psuedo-reconcile felt like a step too far.
Public stakes — We get what the hero can lose (his daughter) if he doesn’t come up with cash by killing enough vampires. What’s missing is the greater stakes. What does is matter if the Big Bad Vampire Real Estate Queen brings a bunch of blood suckers to her subdevelopment?
There’s some dialogue about her bringing all sorts of different vampire species together, and talk of vampire sunscreen so they can shop at the Gap during regular business hours. What we’re missing, though, is a real sense of menace if the hero fails to kill Big Heels Big Fangs.
Is this worth your time? Absolutely, you’ll have fun.