Workmanlike Uwe Boll direction spurs this wholly American story of personal revenge amongst the USA’s financial meltdown. Dominic Purcell leads as Jim Baxford, armored truck driver turned debt deviant as his wife falls ill, their insurance is canceled, and banks knock seeking foreclosure. Assault on Wall Street is never subtle.
Marketed with images of Purcell hoisting assault rifles in front of an exploding New York Stock Exchange, Purcell’s war never reaches those steps. Originally titled Bailout, that title demeanor was considered too lenient. Much of Assault is filled with stagnant financial debate, Purcell inhabiting a fictional space where no one discusses matters outside of economic hardship. Routine luncheons with fellow cops devolve into dissections of investment and unyielding sums of cash. News reports flicker to life on boxy TVs, spouting unfairness in America’s crushing economy.
Purcell’s monotone facial expressions give way to absurd extremes, piling on obstacles to force this otherwise mannered character into an inescapable corner. Villains dress expensively, sloppily defined characteristics branding them fiercely unethical bank CEOs, generating artificially broad strokes in a film hardly pressed for time.
But, Assault on Wall Street is representative of where America lies. Complexities balloon misunderstood financial sectors, bailouts service indifferent rich, and law fails to entangle those responsible. America’s way to solve problems is with a gun, depressing a solution as that may be.
Viewpoint storytelling captures Jim Baxford in drama, and with thinly scoped criminals, smothers opposing sides in burden of proof. They’re wrong because Assault said so. Modern fairy tale fiction is bleak, routinely squaring up gun sights and splattering blood pack squibs as a sanguinary relief for vengeful audiences. Chintzy as Assault may be within the framework of independent production, it represents basic frustrations in a ludicrously failed system, painted broadly and aggressively as to not lose anyone.
Assault reaches for absurd extremes; it has no middle. Pundits of MSNBC and Fox News colliding on political stages would be fairer than Uwe Boll (who also scripted) within his marginalized fiction. Purcell stands for right within confines of explicitly wrong. Shouting caricatures wrap up public images of smiling CEOs on business magazines, familiar to an outsider viewpoint.
Cover art for this home video romp makes a similarly wide grasp. Nowhere in Assault are cars shot, explosions delivered, or Wall Street put on lock down. As a finished product, Assault on Office Space would have situated itself as a truer title. Marketers are equally exploitative as shady bankers in reaching for financial gain, only filmmakers seem to have missed the inherent irony in selling their unsophisticated parable.
Faded color hangs over New York, bleak cloudiness symbolic of this dire revenge story. Digital intermediates rip flesh tones asunder to mute them into flattened pinks. No question remains as to the digital origins. Suppression keeps primaries from infiltrating, every shot mired in collapsed hues that lack spark. Assault is designed outside of pleasantries.
Of visual merit are substantial black levels, certainly pushing against many low grade digital norms. Shadows are stout and delivered with force. While incapable of batting away all noise in darkened interiors, low light scenarios never produce a scenario low on impact or high on grays.
Stock aerials of New York are marred in near-SD quality, one littered with alarmingly high edge enhancement, an anomaly only seen in that single shot. Artifacts are fought with Phase 4’s AVC encode, delivering often dull imagery without additional complications despite dismally low bitrates.
Most concerns stick with inconsistent photography, abrasively heavy, out of focus close-ups souring otherwise naturally precise fidelity. Facial detail is planted with firmness, pleasing to the eye when allowed to be. Visuals are undoubtedly digitally sourced even to most untrained eyes, yet peak promisingly.
Phase 4 brings back compressed formats with destructive Dolby Digital, a format so removed from Blu-ray’s production landscape as to feel archaic… because it is. Already lamentable sound design is further eroded by layered strands of a silencing codec. Gunshots are feeble with nary a pop to identify them as something other than childhood firecrackers. Impact is lost.
New York blossoms a hair with ambient city noise or phone crowded office space. Surrounds do, in fact, exist in this mix. Dialogue is strictly immobile from the center.
Most contemptible are two small grenade explosions, struggling to sound mixed in any capacity. Subwoofer activity is zilch, and their blast is restrained tightly as to avoid producing any notable fidelity.
Uwe Boll inhabits a 16-minute making of, constantly referring to the piece by its original Bailout title. Purcell is included shortly to rundown his character. Phase 4 includes a trailer before signing off.
Note: Time stamps are likely incorrect.