End Game Reviews
The intro to End Game is confusing. The film sets up its dramatic nature based on the concept of the US President being assassinated. When he is shot at, security forces from everywhere around quickly take out the killer. But what doesn't make sense to me is the fact that there were so many people with their weapons aimed around The President and not one person noticed a man pulling his gun out, even though there was a brief window between when he revealed his weapon and when he fired it. This could just be me cherrypicking, but the security forces in End Game don't seem that impressive. The intro to the film is a generic one which sets the film up to be a by-the-numbers political thriller. Since it follows that kind of formula, it ends up being distant from the characters and so its only attempts to put any meaning into them come off as pathetic attempts to cram sentimentality into the film where it won't fit.
End Game has decent production values for a direct-to-DVD film and some of the stunts are staged impressively, but End Game doesn't use its potential enough because it gets too caught up in its story to shift the focus onto where it had potential to genuinely succeed as entertainment. It follows a weak story path which is not an interesting one proving that the film has the writing capabilities as the same direct-to-DVD films that Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were being featured in around the time this film was produced. It probably would be more entertaining if it featured either of those actors because the standard for the film would not be as high as it is for one with an Academy Award winning actor as its lead, but since that is not the case I honestly expected more from End Game which I did not receive.
The one thing that separates End Game from the many familiar political thrillers is its twist ending. Occasionally, some political thrillers have a plot twist which is so intensely original that it is intense and stands out from the countless others which have ridiculous plot devices and predictability. None of them match up to End Game, because the twist ending in End Game is so thoughtless, unoriginal, poorly conceived and lazy that it actually serves as a new low point for screenwriting in political thrilers. End Game spends so much time unsuccessfully trying to create an intense story that will have viewers on the edge at the time the twist is delivered, and so the fact that it is all for nothing when the film reveals the fact that The President was assassinated because he was cheating on his wife, and she organised the whole thing. A woman abused her power as the wife of the US president to have him killed when she found out he was cheating on her. This sounds like the ending to episodes of many homicide investigation shows such as CSI or Castle, but it is actually trying to be a political thriller and pass this off as decent screenwriting. It is not, it is just terrible. Never has the assassination of the US President been for more ridiculous and senseless purposes than the motives in End Game, it is beyond ridiculous and thoroughly unoriginal. This is the endeavour of badness in End Game and the highlight of the poor script writing. End Game is one of those films with an ending so poor that it damages the entire film and makes the experience all worthless, even if it was poor in the first place. It has a twist ending so poor that I am genuinely at a loss for words as a reaction to its lacklustre quality.
Even with a talented cast composed of three Academy Award nominees and one winner, End Game fails to succeed in the acting area.
Cuba Gooding Jr.s' leading performance is not a good one. Despite the fact that he has the stature to fit the profile and the potential to do something with it, the misguided focus of the film and his lacklustre performance both contribute to ensuring that the protagonist of the film is not one that audiences can care about. Cuba Godding Jr.'s performance is so bereft of charisma that his line delivery comes off as less reminiscent of him in any of his stronger roles and more reminiscent of Mike Tyson on his day off. He is consistently spiritless, even when he is running down the street in pursuit of criminals. This is a mix of his inability to grasp the intended seriousness of the character and the fact that the film does a poor job characterizing him, but either way Cuba Gooding Jr.'s performance seems so light in nature that it seems as if he presumes he is in some kind of comedy film. He talks like Mike Tyson at times and acts like Martin Lawrence for much of the film without half the spirit that either of them would try for in the part. He just seems unmotivated in the part as if he knew the film would be terrible and acted to ensure that he matched up to the quality of the film. Either way, End Game pays no favours to his credibility and reminds viewers why his career had been reduced to nothing but direct-to-DVD action films.
James Woods also failed to make an impact. I have a lot of respect for the actor, but clearly the producers of End Game do not because they give him an overtly minimal quantity of screen time along with a weak character. James Woods is probably the best actor in the cast strictly because of the fact that his iconic voice adds a sense of sophistication and edge to the paper-thin role and makes is slightly more entertaining than the others, but still, he has nothing to do and no time to do it in which means that even he is not safe from the lacklustre production that is End Game.
So despite the presence of talented actors, End Game is a poorly acted and repetitive political thriller which follows a dull formula until it reaches its ending which is a plot twist too lazy for even M. Night Shamalyn to come up with.
A somewhat strongly cast direct-to-video thriller that boasts some decent action, as well as a degree more quality than most of these lowish budgeted films. The main issue here though is the awful ending (or rather lack of it) that more or less ruins the entire movie.