Uwe Boll’s Assault On Wall Street

I know that Uwe Boll has this terrible reputation both behind the camera as a director and in real life and to be fair he has made some ten-ton duds while adapting various video games, but he has also made some films that I have to say are really damn good genre exercises with impassioned sociopolitical undercurrents that he very clearly cares about. He did one about the Sudanese genocide in Darfur which was excellent but so fucking raw and intense in its depictions of those atrocities it gave me a panic attack and I couldn’t finish it, but I’ll review that one day. His more recent film Assault On Wall Street, however, couldn’t be a more timely, relevant or infuriatingly emblazoned piece when you consider how the tides of economic inequality have reached the breaching point on the shores of civility and infrastructural disproportion. Dominic Purcell plays a working class guy in NYC (very recognizably shot in VanCity tho) who has a titanic run of bad luck: his wife (Erin Karpluk) is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he’s laid off from his armoured truck job and the looming financial collapse causes him to lose everything (and I mean *everything*) in the space of a few weeks. He fights desperately, using first the system as best he can and when every avenue of established order fails him, he goes rogue and quite literally takes up arms and holds a bunch of wealthy Wall Street pricks hostage in their building with a gun after killing the corrupt hedge fund advisor (Barclay Hope) who betrayed him. It’s a very startling turn of events and it comes across in several ways simultaneously: a tragic, genuinely heartbreaking downward spiral that feels immediate, a lurid, stylistically heightened tale of pulpy vigilantism and a straightforward siege thriller. Boll doesn’t always juggle all these elements together in a way that feels cohesive or believable, but just enough to have them coexist in the same narrative and work for me as a viewer. Purcell is terrific, he often gets thrown these stoic tough guys after his star making turn on Prison Break but they trust him with an albeit equally tough but strikingly vulnerable and sad individual here who you can relate to and root for later on, if you can reconcile his extreme actions (I definitely could) in the face of utter negligence from his fellow human beings in greater positions of power. The cast is exceptional and includes the late John Heard as an abrasive, morally deficient Wall Street kingpin, Keith David, Edward Furlong and Michael Paré as Purcell’s compassionate coworkers and Eric Roberts himself as a slimy lawyer he hires who doesn’t help anyone much at all. This isn’t a perfect film and at times feels over the top and ‘arch’, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a believable, cathartic and rousing experience; all of us middle class peeps at one time have most likely felt as betrayed, slighted or mistreated by the system as Purcell’s character does here, and his violent call to arms might not necessarily be something to aspire to or even condone, but it’s as scathing an indictment and act of defiance against the strong arm of corrupt, anarchic capitalism as can be expected. Very effective film.

-Nate Hill

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