I recently reviewed the black site in space thriller INCOMING. Now we have 80s action icons Jean-Claude Van Damme (UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, THE BOUNCER) and Dolph Lundgren (Aquaman, BATTLE OF THE DAMNED) in the secret prison on a sub film BLACK WATER. Is this the start of a trend? More importantly, is it a good movie?
Deep cover operative Wheeler (Jean-Claude Van Damme) wakes up in a cell, not sure of where he is or how he got there. A voice from the next cell, Marco (Dolph Lundgren) informs him he’s in a secret prison somewhere under the ocean. An extended flashback fills us in on how he got there, his cover blown and his partner/lover Ballard (Courtney B. Turk DEVILISH CHARM) is killed. He’s hidden a key piece of the mission’s objective and those responsible for blowing his cover want it.
Taking advantage of distrust among the various agency and military personnel on the sub, Walker escapes. Unfortunately, everyone either thinks he’s turned rogue or wants him dead before he can expose them. And trapped on a sub, he hasn’t got anywhere to run.
First and foremost this isn’t the teaming of its two stars that it’s billed as. Lundgren is kept in his cell until the last 30 minutes or so. And doesn’t get that much screen time after he’s released. It’s basically another extended cameo for the big guy and a big let down for fans.
Taken simply as another DTV Van Damme film, BLACK WATER is certainly better than much of what he’s been doing lately, although that’s not saying a lot really. The Muscles From Brussels is beginning to really show his age at this point. He holds up better here than in other recent films, (and he’s not nearly as pathetic looking as Steven Seagal). He proved he can act in JCVD, maybe he should try more roles like that.
BLACK WATER moves along at a good pace, and the fairly standard is plot given a few nice twists to go with its setting. Writer Chad Law has seventeen films, mostly DTV action films, (including another Van Damme flick 6 BULLETS) and his experience at working around budget and schedule limitations shows. The same with director Pasha Patriki, this is his debut in that role but he has eighty-seven credits as a cinematographer. Again mostly shorts and DTV fare where he obviously learned well.
A solid, efficient action film that never deviates too far from the mold, BLACK WATER will entertain those who aren’t too disappointed by the deceptive billing.