Cinematographer Nadeem Soumah makes his second stab at writing/directing with 6 Ways to Die, a revenge flick whose told-in-reverse structure only serves to emphasize how little one event is connected to another in any meaningful way. Having cobbled together a budget sufficient to hire actors favored by Quentin Tarantino (Vivica A. Fox) and Guy Ritchie (Vinnie Jones), Soumah failed to learn anything from those filmmakers about how to give a crime film style, or even coherence. Its only commercial hope, beyond exploiting the names in its cast on video, is that its badness is so easily mocked it might attract licensing requests from some Mystery Science Theater-type outfit.
Jones plays “John Doe,” who enlists one unlikely helper after another in an attempt to torture Sonny ‘Sundown’ Garcia (Michael Rene Walton), a gangster who ruined his life. Sonny’s not just any gangster, mind you: As Jones informs us in lines he seems to have learned phonetically, “his U.S. distribution network is the most intricate and sophisticated network ever created in the history of the narcotics trade.” Um, okay.
Kill Bill may be a touchstone for Doe’s methodically patient plan, but where that film (like most decent revengers) relished watching the wronged mete out payback, this one farms the job out to actors who should work hard to keep 6 Ways from being seen by casting agents: Soumah and whoever edited the film (no editor is credited; ditto for the casting director) are so tone-deaf about acting that supporting thesps Dominique Swain, Melissa Mars and Jose Rosete might well earn Razzies on the basis of single shots that could have been cut out or remedied with a second take. (Other cast members, like Walton, are allowed to develop their lousy performances over the course of many scenes.)
Soumah’s trouble with actors might have been irrelevant had he stuck with an early strategy, in which a hit man’s gun gets more attention from the camera than the characters shooting and being shot. Alas, no other inanimate object in 6 Ways possesses that pistol’s charisma — and neither do the humans.
Production company: Formula Features
Cast: Vinnie Jones, Michael Rene Walton, Vivica A. Fox, Tom Sizemore, Dominique Swain
Director-Screenwriter-Director of photography: Nadeem Soumah
Producers: Nadeem Soumah, Anoop Rangi
Executive Producer: Krishen Rangi
Music: Kurt Oldman
No rating, 103 minutes