• Way Of War



    Released by: First Look Studios
    Released on: 2/10/2009
    Director: John Carter
    Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., J.K. Simmons, John Terry, Jaclyn Desantis, Lance Reddick, Clarence Williams
    Year: 2008

    The Movie:

    Former Oscar winner and current direct to video star Cuba Gooding Jr. plays an American paramilitary soldier named David Wolfe. He’s the best of the best and his training makes him a dangerous man indeed, making him the perfect choice to assassinate a terrorist leader hiding out in the Middle East. As Wolfe goes about his mission, he soon uncovers some suspicious activity on the part of the American government, and before long he finds himself involved in a conspiracy that reaches from the military all the way up to the highest office in the country’s government.

    When Wolfe figures out the truth behind his mission, his life is instantly in danger as the powers that be would rather silence him forever than let him speak the truth. He goes on the run to save his life and expose the corruption that has put him in this situation.

    Way Of War is an okay movie that could have and should have been a lot better than it is. The film isn’t terrible by any stretch, in fact it’s a reasonably entertaining time killer that features some good acting from Cuba and a strong supporting performance from the always enjoyable J.K. Simmons (who seems to be getting a lot of work lately, and for good reason). The problem is that the pacing is off for the first half of the movie. The picture takes its sweet time to get moving and once it does pick up, well, the pay off just barely makes it worthwhile.

    It’s a shame that the pacing problems are so prominent because underneath a few unnecessary subplots there lies an interesting and compelling thriller that mixes politics and action quite nicely. While the cover of the film would lead you to believe the film is in line with recent Middle East–based action pictures like The Kingdom, this is more of a political thriller than it is a shoot’em up or a war film. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, but those expecting bullet ballet or Rambo-esque ultra violence will be disappointed but the acting is strong enough and the storyline has enough that does work to overshadow the film’s faults. That’s not to say that the problems aren’t there and that they aren’t, at times, rather glaring, but they don’t completely invalidate the film’s worth. Approach this one as an entertaining thriller rather than a picture of any serious substance and you’ll be on the right track, even if, as said, it could have and should have been a better film than it turned out to be.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The picture is presented in a pretty good-looking 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There aren't any problems with compression artifacts except in a couple of darker spots where some minor ones do appear. The movie has been shot with an intentionally grainy look to it that might irk some viewers but otherwise this is a fairly clean and well authored image. Color reproduction is fine though the movie leans towards a lot of darker hues so don't expect it to pop the way some transfers do. All in all, the movie looks just fine though unfortunately the transfer is interlaced.

    The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track handles the action scenes nicely by spreading out the sound effects and the score across the stage. Rear channel activity is frequent and bass response is pretty strong. Dialogue is always easy enough to follow and understand though there are a couple of spots where the effects bury the performers just a bit. Aside from that, the levels are generally fine and this is a pretty strong effort. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.

    The only extras on this release, aside from the menu screens, are a trailer for the feature and trailers for a few other First Look Studios DVD releases.

    The Final Word:

    While not as action intensive as the packaging would have you believe, Way Of War is a reasonably well acted and often times semi-intelligent mix of drama and tension that features strong performances from both Cuba Gooding Jr. and J.K. Simmons. A couple of sub-plots muddy things up and slow the film down but the good outweighs the bad, this one is worth a look.