Hero Wanted (2008) – Review

3 Stars

Another straight-to-DVD action film from the reigning king of the genre Cuba Gooding Jr. This time he plays a garbage man still mourning the loss of his wife and child. Once hailed as a ‘hero’ for rescuing a little girl from a burning car crash, Gooding’s character has fallen on hard times emotionally, until he meets a bank teller that resembles his deceased spouse. More and more he obsesses about the woman yet is unable to find the words to start a conversation. During one of his stalker-ish visits to the bank a group of hoodlums enter and murder the teller before his eyes. Enraged our ‘hero’ becomes an avenging force and begins systematically executing all involved. On his trail is a forgiving cop (Ray Liotta) that doesn’t want to believe this good Samaritan could be mixed up in a robbery/murder gone awry.

Typically strong performances dot this interesting film. Liotta shows up for only a handful of scenes but is effective nonetheless and Gooding is solid as per usual. The real wild-card in the picture is actor Kim Coates whom plays the leader of the criminal enterprise. He is an oddly intriguing actor with enormous screen presence (you may recognize him from small parts in The Last Boy Scout, Bad Boys), his maniacal turn is the film’s greatest asset.

The narrative is told through a series of flashbacks and the jumbled structure isn’t always entirely effective. Although if played out in a more liner fashion the story would lose all credibility. In it’s present form the screenplay does a good job hiding some of the more ridiculous aspects of the story. Things get very complicated story-wise, but writers Chad and Evan Law do a good job maintaining a level of interest in these characters and their intertwining relationships. However the final shoot-out is derivative and runs on far too long leading to one of the strangest ‘Mexican Stand-offs’ in recent memory. Not bad for it’s kind; worth a look to see Liotta and Gooding share the screen.

Director: Brian Smrz
Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ray Liotta, Norman Reedus

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