Maximum Impact review – just say nyet to this US/Russian action comedy

Maximum Impact was a mistake for everyone involved, including the audience. At least everyone else got paid.

Action comedy isn’t the easiest genre to pull off, but it can be done. Think Rush Hour, Bad Boys, 48 Hours, The Other Guys. Maximum Impact has more in common with Police Academy — only with worse acting, terrible humor and more nonsensical plot developments.

Secret Service members must team up with their Federal Security Service of Russia counterparts to stop an international crisis from developing.

Predictably, the two sides aren’t eager to collaborate, but for the sake of the greater good put their differences aside to stop the common threat. Kelly Hu (Arrow) plays Kate, an overly aggressive agent with a quick temper. Joining her on the Secret Service side are agents Robinson (Alphonso McAuley), Barnes (Tom Arnold) and Vance (Keith Powers).

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Kate and Robinson pair off with Russian agents Maxim Kadurin (Alexander Nevsky) and Andrei Durov (Evgenity Stychkin). Screenwriter Ross LaManna (the Rush Hour series) has some interesting ideas like the shorter Durov being the feared pit bull style fighter while the more physically imposing Maxim rarely sees the field. This could have been interesting if LaManna played up Maxim pretending to be a tough guy despite his size, but the visual gag quickly gets abandoned.

That’s probably because Nevsky failed to see the potential in embracing the comedy. Nevsky (Black Rose) is following the action hero playbook penned by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he doesn’t have a fraction of the charisma or screen presence. He’s got the looks of the next great action star yet doesn’t appear to have any fun.

The lack of a playful edge really hurts Nevsky in his interactions with poor Hu, who’s acting for two whenever they share scenes together. In one scene, Maxim puts a bowl over Kate’s head in order to cut her hair. That would be a tough scene to sell in the best of circumstances — maybe Dwayne Johnson could pull it off with a disarming smile and clever one-liner, but those tricks aren’t in Nevsky’s repertoire yet.

Only Mark Dacascos (Agents of SHIELD) seemed to enjoy himself as was fully clued in that it’s perfectly fine to ham it up in a C- film. His over the top performance is the closest that anything in the film comes to being entertaining.

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I’ve given up feeling bad for Danny Trejo for appearing in these awful films as he clearly just enjoys starring in crappy movies. Eric Roberts and William Baldwin are in pure slumming it mode. The rest of the cast should probably just look into getting this expunged from their IMDB record.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak (Doom, Romeo Must Die) doesn’t have the sense of humor to pull off an action comedy. The script has some inherently goofy scenarios, but Bartkowiak doesn’t play them up enough. Other times he sets up bizarre scenes that defy logic like a heat seeking missile that misses because the pilot swerved or federal agents needing a paparazzo’s help tracking someone down.

The audio mix is awful with the performers’ mouths not syncing up properly with the dialogue. In the most egregious scenes, we can hear dialogue while the actors clearly have their mouths closed. It’s an example of overall shoddy editing. Just as puzzling is the terrible soundtrack with songs that never match up with the moment.

Maximum Impact lands with a thud as one of 2018’s worst films. There’s no redeeming value in any of it to bother spending time watching this excuse for an action comedy.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Photo Credit: Unified Pictures

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