– Summary –
Director : David S Goyer
Cast : Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ryan Reynolds, Jessica Biel, Parker Posey, Dominic Purcell
Censorship Rating : MA 15+ (Violence and gore)
Target Audience : Action, Vampires, thriller
Length : 113 Minutes
Synopsis: Blade returns to action when he is outed publicly by the vampires, and is rescued from police custody by a group of vampire hunters known as the Nightstalkers, one of whom happens to be Whistlers daughter, Abigail.
Review : A lot of sturm und drang in this third film outing of our favorite vampire hunter (nope, Buffy doesn’t count) sees a sexy new crew and a whole new direction for the franchise. While filled with action and classy dialogue (thanks to writer/director Goyer), Trinity feels a little shallow, and we get the pervasive feeling of been-there, done-that. Not even the vampire granddaddy of them all, Dracula, can salvage this film from degenerating faster than a sunlit undead.
In this, the third outing for Blade, the daywalking vampire hunter, Wesley Snipes is totally outclassed by newcomers Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel, in their respective roles as Nightstalkers sent to help Blade in his battle against the vampires. Blade, framed for murdering a vampire familiar (a human who is friendly to the vampire cause, in an effort to become one him/herself) is hunted by the FBI, who track him to his hideout with Whistler. In a last ditch effort to put them off the scent, Whistler destroys the hideout (and all of Blade’s weapons) and himself in the process. Anguished by the loss of his trusted mentor, Blade is captured by the CIA, but before he can be thoroughly prosecuted by them, he is rescued from their clutches by two young warriors; the crossbow wielding Abigail (Jessica Biel) and the trash talking Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds), both of whom belong to a secret organization known as the Nightstalkers. The Nightstalkers, it seems, have been set up by Whistler to help Blade fight the vampires, in the event of his death.
The latest plot to destroy mankind is the waking of the first vampire, Dracula, to return the vampire legion to it’s former glory, and destroy Blade once and for all. It’s about this point, dear readers, that you begin to get a little weepy in the eyes, with Goyer’s reliance on the somewhat hackneyed “Dracula” plot device to give this film it’s motivational direction. Although Dominic Purcell (who played one of the leads in TV series Prison Break) is a striking Dracula (or, as he’s known in the film, “Drake”) but he lacks the ability to seem truly malevolent. This kind of performance was done so much better by Bill Nighy in the Underworld movies, and although Dracula is truly one awesomely powerful vampire, you know that in the end he’s going to cop a hiding from our hero. Or is he?
I’ll validate Goyer’s story twist of including the big D by stating that at least he attempted to try something different with the Blade franchise this time round. The character loses another of his family (his mother in the first installment, and his friend and mentor Whistler in this one) and you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps, after all this carnage and death, Blade would be ready to skip to the nearest psyche ward and check himself into the padded room. But he is a resilient man, and his mission to rid the world of vampires is an overriding one, that supersedes all others. The addition of Biel as Abigail, who happens to be Whistler’s daughter (and thus, a new member of the family, so to speak) is a positive one, although I can’t help the feeling that it all feels a little contrived. The first two films of the franchise had Blade on his own, essentially, battling the forces of the vampires through shadow and flame, only returning to help (Whistler) when absolutely required. Here, Blade is hamstrung somewhat by the Nightstalkers, their presence a seemingly teen-market induced comedown to ensure the franchise maintains it’s corporate viability. Jessica Biel is obviously in the film to keep the boys interested in a lopsided plot, and Reynolds is there, in all his buffed and bronzed glory, to make sure the girlfriends of the guys watching are at least entertained a little. Blade still punches and slashes his way though this film, as usual, but it still feels a little… false.
Goyer’s direction is first rate, I have to admit. His handling of large scale action and tense, intimate moments is equally good, with his use of the widescreen image fairly standard. he draw a fine performance from his cast, especially Reynolds and Snipes, the latter of whom appears more human here than in any of the previous films. The slow, subtle humanizing of Blade is perhaps a good arc for the character to go on, and Snipes seems capable of delivering at least some of the required emotive skill. Reynolds get’s the lions share of the clever quips, this time around, and reduces Blade to merely a weapon of mass destruction, a blunt force battering ram of a man, who steamrolls his way through a seemingly endless supply of cannon-fodder thugs on his way to the showdown with Dracula. The character deserved better than that. Biel seems out of her depth, her lack of acting chops at odds with the depth Goyer tries to instil in the script: she’s good to look at, but hard to watch try and act.
For me, it’s the slight commercialization of the franchise that does it in, makes it a less-than worthy successor to I and II. It’s fun at moments, and certainly filled with the slam bang action of previous films, but ultimately it’s a somewhat flat, hollow affair lacking the grungy, dirty demeanor of Blade and Blade II, which, by comparison, are magnificent films. Blade: Trinity manages to be merely good, which is not a bad thing in itself, but you’d think that it could have been better. The climax of the film, with Dracula, is nowhere near as cool as the showdown with Nomak at the end of Blade II. Ultimately, it’s disappointingly good.