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His recent Oscar nomination notwithstanding, Mickey Rourke’s unfortunately grotesque current appearance seems to inevitably consign him to slop like Java Heat, the retro action movie in which he plays the requisite colorful villain. Speaking his lines in an unintelligible accent that occasionally requires subtitles and wearing a white suit that never seems to get bloody even when he’s stabbing people to death, the actor brings an undeniably fascinating strangeness to the otherwise familiar proceedings.
Unfortunately, he’s not the star of this cross-cultural buddy cop action movie set in the exotic environs of the Indonesian island that provides the title. That would be Kellan Lutz, whose appearances in the Twilight movies are exploited in a throwaway inside gag.
Lutz plays the all-American Jake Travers, a supposed teacher’s assistant traveling in Indonesia who winds up witnessing a terror attack that kills the island’s beloved Sultana. Interrogated as a suspect by devout Muslim detective Hashim (Ario Bayu), Jake eventually reveals his true identity as an undercover FBI agent hot on the trail of the evil mastermind Malik (Roarke).
The two disparate lawmen team up with predictably clashing results, as director/co-screenwriter Conor Allyn piles on an array of high-octane action sequences featuring enough shootouts, explosions and chases to fuel a dozen films.
That these violent set pieces are staged with an admirable finesse and clarity is the film’s chief strength. Shunning the rapid-fire editing and visual incoherence that mark so many current actioners, the director also showcases his exotic scenic locations to excellent effect.
It’s too bad that similar effort hadn’t been expended on the screenplay, which misses nary a predictable note. Not helping matters is Lutz’s boringly bland performance which mainly relies on his beefcake credentials, showcased in gratuitous scenes featuring the hunky actor engaging in a sweaty, shirtless workout and enjoying a nude massage. Far more impressive is Bayu, who delivers a thoughtful, nuanced performance as the righteous detective who inevitably succumbs to his partner’s more slam-bang methods.
Opens: Friday, May 10 (IFC Films)
Production: Margate House
Cast: Kellan Lutz, Mickey Rourke, Ario Bayu, Frans Tumbuan, Tio Pakusadewo
Director: Conor Allyn
Screenwriters/producers: Rob Allyn, Conor Allyn
Executive producers: Marshall Payne, Scott Greer, Albert Huddleston, John Eddit Williams, Lee Your Mitchell, Mark Williams, Ryan Daly
Director of photography: Shane Daly
Editor: Harvey Rosenstock
Production designer: David Ingram
Costume designer: Diana Kertamihardja
Composer: Justin Burnett
Rated R, 99 min.
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