Heart of America (2002)
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Michael Pare, Jurgen Prochnow, Maria Conchita Alonso, Brendan Fletcher, Lochlyn Munroe
As many of us eagerly await the final instalment of Uwe Boll’s awesome Rampage trilogy, it’s time to dig into Boll’s back catalogue and take a look at this lesser known foray into the genre of gunmen running amok, a genre (or maybe sub-genre) of which Boll is indisputably the fucking boss.
This time, the action is set in an American high school on the final day of term, where a small group of bullied kids have decided that enough’s enough and it’s time to take lethal revenge on the jocks that have made their lives a misery for years.
Among the bullies is a young Brendan Fletcher, who absolutely shines in every scene he’s in. Unfortunately, he’s surrounded by a bit of a mixed bunch in terms of acting talent. Plenty of Boll’s other regulars are on hand, such as the ever-reliable Michael Pare and Lochlyn Munroe, who was cool as Chip, the sleazy anchorman in Rampage 2, and he plays a similar character again this time, although in a much smaller role. There’s also Maria Conchita Alonso, who we all remember as Leona, the LAPD’s answer to Private J. Vasquez, in Predator 2, as well as her appearance alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Running Man. Some of the other actors let the film down though. Particularly crap are the young couple who’re expecting a baby. The girl spends the entirety of her time on screen complaining about being up the duff and the guy is such a pussy it’s hard to believe he could’ve got a girlfriend in the first place.
Boll spends most of the film, about an hour and fifteen minutes, building up to the massacre, which is over practically before it starts to be honest. A lot of the build-up is not all that interesting either, since many of the characters don’t really add much to the mix, although most of their fates do tie together quite neatly at the end. But the result is that it becomes more of a long winded drama than a fast moving thriller. I suppose given the content and in the context of so many real life high school massacres, Boll was kind of obliged to go that route. Personally, though, I’d like to have seen more scenes of Brendan Fletcher and his sneering buddies tormenting their victims and then a better pay off at the end, with the perpetrators of the massacre extracting revenge on a few more of the bad guys in a more protracted rampage. Whilst many might proclaim “they’re just kids!” it’s my firm belief that being kids is no excuse for being cunts and bullies of this calibre deserve everything they get.
Although by no means a failure, I think this project was a little overambitious and doesn’t quite attain the heights it aspires to, mainly due to some of the actors not being strong enough to carry it off. I’m glad Boll seems to have refined his talent pool somewhat since 2002. The narration at the end is particularly cringe worthy too. But, hell, you’ve got to give props to Boll for even taking on this subject. Do I admire Boll more or less after watching this? The answer would have to be more. That said, I’m going to look on this as a practise run for his later, and much better executed (no pun intended) Rampage/Assault on Wall Street movies. Whereas those films are infinitely watchable, I doubt I’d return to this one in a hurry.