Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 96 minutes
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The film begins with Jerico, the leader of a home-grown militia group called the Sons of the Minutemen, holed up in a shack as the place is stormed by the ATF. Waiting in the wings are Renshaw and Chaney, two police officers. Renshaw gets impatient when he hears in the distance the ATF getting wiped out by the fanatical Jerico.
After a tedious 20 minute shoot-out, Renshaw manages to collar Jerico and put him in jail. As Jerico awaits trail for a series of Oklahoma City-style bombings, we head home with Renshaw to his miserable home life. Waiting for him is his wife, who is wallowing in a depression about a baby they recently aborted.
The Sons of the Minutemen take a hit out on Renshaw and his family, which causes him to run home and try to flee with his wife. However, she refuses to go and ends up killing herself with a gun Renshaw had taken from Jerico. This prompts Renshaw to exact the ultimate revenge on Jerico.
The story tries to juxtapose Renshaw and Jerico as two mortal enemies that have nothing to lose and eventually collide. However, Renshaw’s anger finds Jerico rather than is a result of anything Jerico has done to him. Indeed, Renshaw doesn’t appear to care about his ATF team that is slaughtered at Jerico’s hands. Rather, he somehow blames Jerico for the mess in his life and with his wife. This sets Jerico up as merely a strawman that Renshaw goes after, instead of being a formidable opponent – and in the end leaves no redemption for any character.
Shot on video, Lewis chose to present the movie in black and white. This is a choice that I’ve seen directors make, which is strange in the realm of video. Usually, black and white films are shot for money-saving reasons (see such famous examples as “Clerks” and “Pi”) or creepy aesthetic (see “Psycho” or “Ed Wood”), but shooting on video in black and white doesn’t make much sense. A horror movie, yes. But a run-and-gun action movie, no.
Other painful video “gives,” such as extreme blow-out and choppy slow motion, pull the movie down.
Director Mark Lewis loves the gunplay…a little too much. In movies, the audience can be very forgiving when the hero and bad guys fire more rounds than their guns should hold. We all remember the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when Indiana Jones kills about two dozen Nazis and Tibetan thugs with a six-shooter. And we’ve all seen the John Woo shoot-em-ups in which nobody ever reloads. In “Jerico Dies,” this is taken to a ludicrous level. In one scene, Jerico unloads a 9 mm pistol at least five times without putting in a new magazine. There are so many magical bullets in this film that the Warren Commission should investigate the production.
The best part of “Jerico Dies” is the tag line: “Guns. Violence. Foul Language. Bring the Kids.” Unfortunately, the rest of the feature doesn’t hold the same punch.
Posted on September 23, 2002 in Reviews by Kevin Carr
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