Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cuba Gooding Jr., Christian Slater, Lara Daans, Kim Coates, Devon Bostick, Arcadia Kendal, Zion Lee, Jake Simons, Layton Morrison, Athena Karkanis, Matthew Stefiuk, Hannah Chant�e, Adrian Langley, Stacey Martin, Peter Michael Dillon
Written by: Damian Lee
Directed by: Damian Lee
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, some drug content and sexuality
Running Time: 99
Date: 04/26/2011

Sacrifice (2011)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Weeping with the Enemy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christian Slater's last film together, Lies & Illusions (2009), Slater played the lead and Gooding the bad guy, and it was a terrible mess. In Sacrifice, Gooding takes the lead, while Slater plays a supporting role, and the result is quite a bit better, though still average. I'm not saying that the reversal is the reason for the new film's improvement, though. It's just an observation.

The fact is that I like Slater and will watch him in just about anything. He was a kind of minor spokesperson for our generation in films like Heathers, Pump Up the Volume and True Romance, and I still have hope for him. Sadly, he and Gooding seem to have been shuttled to direct-to-video land for the time being, but at least they have each other.

In Sacrifice, Gooding plays John Hebron, a former undercover cop who pissed off the wrong bad guys and lost his entire family as a result. He now lives in an alcohol-fueled haze of depression and anger, though Gooding can't really do much with this character (he's more the funny, happy-go-lucky type). Meanwhile, a twentysomething drug dealer, Mike (Devon Bostick) decides he wants to go straight. To get out from under his beautiful and vicious boss, Jade (Lara Daans), he comes up with a plan. Their organization is in the middle of delivering a huge load of heroin, hardened, sculpted, and disguised as Virgin Mary statues. (The curing heroin actually makes the statues weep.) Mike steals one and donates it to a church, which is overseen by Father Porter (Slater), who happens to know John.

What's more, Mike has a little sister that he cares for (their parents are dead), and John's friend Rachel (Athena Karkanis) is in charge of watching her. Too many coincidences? Perhaps, but the quality of the casting and acting keeps the thing on its toes, and the direction by veteran schlockmeister Damian Lee (Ski School, Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe, etc.) has a languid pace, a sort of sad, droopy mood, like a squalid city afternoon. It moves by so evenhandedly that you may not notice or mind all the brain-dead shortcuts in the script.

Here's hoping that these guys can graduate to something bigger and/or better soon, but until then, this is an acceptable time-waster. Millennium's new Blu-Ray comes with trailers, and a cool making-of feature, so low-budget that it actually has some personality (it looks like it was shot on the set rather than a stage).

Best Buy Co, Inc.