Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Steve Austin, Erica Cerra, Adam Beach, Ron Lea, Viv Leacock, Jason Schombing, Stephen Dimopoulos, Dalila Bela, Anthony Harrison, Andrew Wheeler, Samantha Page, G. Michael Gray, Timothy Paul Perez, Adrien Dorval, Geoff Gustafson
Written by: Quinn Scott
Directed by: Robert Lieberman
MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language
Running Time: 90
Date: 06/01/2010
IMDB

The Stranger (2010)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Forgiven and Forgotten

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Former pro wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin appears in his third starring role, as the "stranger" of the title. He's a former FBI agent who has a memory condition. He apparently experienced some kind of tragedy in his past and has blocked it out. He now re-invents himself every so often, living life as a homeless man, or a dockworker, each time not remembering what happened before. The movie never really uses this idea for anything, except the promise (threat) of sequels with "the stranger" turning up with new identities and new jobs each time. For now, The Stranger can be credited mainly for confusing those interested in Orson Welles' much better 1946 movie of the same name.

Mason Reese (Adam Beach) is an FBI agent who is constantly on the lookout for the missing "Tom" Tomashevsky (Austin). Psychiatrist Grace Bishop (Erica Cerra) also wants to find him; he's her patient and she's basically just concerned about him. Tom, who has been living in a homeless encampment, tips his hand by using his considerable combat skills to rescue a kidnapped girl, which makes his trail hot again. It comes out that Tom -- somewhere deep in his memory -- knows about a large amount of stolen money, and lots of people are dying to get their hands on it.

Director Robert Lieberman (D3: The Mighty Ducks) mostly mangles all this, failing to build suspense or deliver a sharp payoff, and mucking up all the action scenes in-between; this is the shakiest, junkiest action stuff I've seen in some time, and that's saying something. The cast, however, is fairly likeable. Austin, when not given too much to say, manages an appealing gentleness. Cerra is beautiful and able to hold her own against the men. And it's nice to see Beach playing something that has nothing to do with his American Indian heritage. Overall, this might have been a more interesting pilot for a TV show, if the director could manage to stop shaking and deliver some excitement.

Anchor Bay released the DVD and Blu-Ray, and it has an oddly muted look that doesn't really shine in HD format. The disc comes with a making-of featurette, and trailers.