Friday, 16 December 2011

Til Schweiger

Though he’s not made a career as a leading man in action cinema, Tilman Valentin "Til" Schweiger is undoubtedly one of the most successful German actors of his generation. Moving between low-budget German films (several of which he has also directed) and Hollywood blockbusters.

Schweiger’s diverse and charismatic, recognisable from Antoine Fuqua’s The Replacement Killers (1998) and King Arthur (2004), not to mention Renny Harlin’s Driven (2001) and many others.

Most notably a member of Quentin Tarantino’s team of Inglourious Basterds in 2009, Schweiger made his debut as an action hero in 2007’s Body Armour. An extremely international co-production shot in Barcelona, the film was a decent low-budget stab at imitating Hollywood action fare.

Released under the title Der Bodyguard in Germany, this British, American, Australian, German and Spanish co-production echoes the likes of Back to Back (1996), The Chain (1996) and Fatal Blade (2001) in its good guy-bad guy buddy formula.

Schweiger plays John Ridley, a retired bodyguard lured back into action to protect the very man he despises, an assassin played by Chazz Palminteri. Borrowing elements from The Transporter (2002), Michael Bay’s The Rock (1996) and John Woo movies, Gerry Lively’s film feels a little too much like a TV movie but is good fun.

Apparently playing an American, Schweiger never convinces because he can’t disguise his distinct accent, but has a strong presence reminiscent of that of Michael Rooker or Robert Patrick. He also has a fun face-off with Khan Bonfils that provides a nice climax to the story.

Chazz Palminteri’s probably the only American in this faux-American production but it’s one of those films that’s all the more endearing for its often lazy efforts at deception.

Body Armour didn’t have much impact in the film world, but Schweiger next turn as an action hero certainly would. Cast as Jack Carver in the feature adaptation of the hit videogame Far Cry, Schweiger was once again the star of a faux-Hollywood movie, this time under the much more experienced guidance of the infamous Uwe Boll.

A Canadian-German co-production, Boll cast Germans in several key roles. Schweiger was joined by the legendary Udo Kier and the mighty Ralf Moeller in a straightforward adaptation of the plot of the game from 2004 that offered Boll the chance to step on the toes of the much more successful German filmmaker Roland Emmerich.

Boll’s film echoes Universal Soldier (1992), in which Moeller had played one of the undead supersoldiers commanded Dolph Lundgren, by teaming its hero up with a female reporter (that most well-worn of clichés). Later, when the love interest needs rescuing, he shares scenes with an awful comedy side-kick, something none of the Universal Soldier films had. Thankfully.

Far Cry is no match for any of the Universal Soldier movies starring Jean-Claude Van Damme (it’s definitely better than the two dire TV movies though) but it’s a better than average Boll. The simple plot allows a lot of room for action with boat captain Carver employing his German special forces training to help our heroine once we get past the 30 minute mark. The last half hour is particularly action-packed.

Schweiger has the help of an obvious stunt double for his more physical moments but certainly looks the part. As in Body Armour he's confident handling weapons and his permanently stern expression would suggest he was born to be an action star.

That said, no action hero roles appear to be in his immediate future. On the contrary, Schweiger looks to be more anonymous in 2012. According to the imdb he'll be playing two characters known only as "FBI agent" in This Means War (starring Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) and The Courier (starring Mickey Rourke and Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

No comments:

Post a Comment