Maximum Risk - * 1/2*

The action’s good and pointless in this bland thriller. At the outset of Maximum Risk, French police detective Alain Moreau (Jean-Claude Van Damme) discovers he had a (now-deceased) long-lost twin brother. Alain begins a trek which leads him to New York City in order to discover who his brother really was and how he died. His search entangles him with the Russian mafia, the F.B.I., and the beautiful Alex Minetti (Natasha Henstridge). Maximum Risk marks the American film debut of Hong Kong action director Ringo Lam (much like John Woo cut his Hollywood teeth with Van Damme in Hard Target). Some of the Hong Kong style and flair for action shows in the action scenes in Maximum Risk, many of which bristle with energy. However, the rest of the film saps that energy, leaving Maximum Risk a lifeless corpse. Take for instance, the very first scenes of the film. They open in media res, starting with a chase through the streets in France. We don’t know who the pursuers are, or who the pursuee is, or why they are chasing him in the first place. There’s absolutely no connection between the audience and the action on the screen. The whole chase in handled in such a routine manner, that we’re not really curious about why they’re chasing at all…its just something to watch. And that is seemingly the entire purpose behind the entire plot…just to link together the chases and fight scenes, with little regard for who or why. That’s not to say that some of those scenes aren’t worth watching, its just that they could have at least tried to make it interesting between kicks and jabs.

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