I can't believe I got up on Tuesday morning, day of release, and picked up 'Bending the Rules.' Even now, having sat through it, I can't imagine what I looked like going in to Wal-Mart, perusing all the new releases until I found the buddy cop feature starring Adam "Edge" Copeland and Jamie Kennedy, before walking to the cashiers with only said item in hand. The cover alone gives me enough reason to want to punch someone or something. You have a cheesy, strangely-punctuated one liner ("Justice has One Small Problem. Them."), not one but two mentions of WWE (as if discerning consumers who missed one or the other needed the warning sign), and one of the stupidest poses from the two stars, as if it were some selling point. Why, gee, I could buy any other new release, but that 'Bending the Rules' thingy has that Edge guy making a shmaltzy looking smile, holding up a gun that's about a tenth the size of his head, with his long flowing hair the last remnant of the wrestling career he had to quit, and that Jamie Kennedy fellow, with that weird lookin' smirk and those dangling handcuffs, I'm sold.
I'm sorry, but it looks like Kennedy wants to get in some kinky kind of handcuffs match with his costar. This is supposed to be a buddy cop movie, kinda sorta, not a drama of self discovery!
In WWE's latest film offering, we have the requisite superstar (Edge) playing Nick Blades, a detective who doesn't play by the rules. He dresses how he wants to dress (loafers, shorts, and button up shirts with a few buttons missing, his tattoos spilling over his attire), regardless of the situation. He takes money from potential perps, has a glovebox almost overflowing with (potential) plant guns, and is under investigation for a number of misdeeds while on duty. Blades escapes his rap, which only furthers the worst day of his prosecuting assistant DA (Kennedy)'s life. His wife is leaving him and kicking him out of the home, cops have tazed him for going after their own, and he's about to discover the family pride and joy, a sweet, sweet ride, is about to be stolen. And he's on a list of names to be bumped off, that's important, too. These polar opposites on the same side of the law will find they have to work together to solve a dangerous case, and may come to an understanding about each other.
Writing that synopsis pained me. The thing about WWE funded movies is they always seem to have the most ridiculous, boring scripts. They're the movies you'd expect to see on daytime television. Heck, they're films that may not have even been considered fresh two decades ago. They exist solely as promotional tools, or, in my estimation, as tax write offs. 'Bending the Rules' is no better than its contrived brethren of film flops, for a number of reasons.
The cast is the main problem with the film. Edge has talents, he really does. He is capable of emoting and making facial expressions, albeit exaggerated ones, and he actually had very good talent on the mic from all his years antagonizing audiences. That said, he's going through the motions here, despite this not being his first film role. His eyes, often hidden behind a pair of reddish tinted shades, never change. His body doesn't consistently meld with the role. He's almost awkward and seemingly intimidated, despite the fact that acting is probably his next career venture. Kennedy, meanwhile, is as dry as a sack of flour (whole wheat), never selling his lines or his plight. He's good at being pompous, yes, but that's about it. Meanwhile, the film wastes scenes with Jessica Walter ('Archer') and Philip Baker Hall ('Magnolia') on a very annoying side-plot, despite the fact that they are far more believable in their roles.
The plot is fairly annoying, as well. We have the bad boy cop, who's on administrative leave, acting the part, flashing his badge and his piece at every turn, working his angles, using his instincts, and generally being a super cop, working a clumsily constructed dubious plot concerning a four person hit list, while his antagonist, along for the ride, frets and frets and frets about a stolen vehicle in every scene, despite the fact that something else is going on here. Ignore those guys toting shotguns who want to speak with you, because, mein Gott, your car is missing! When we find out the story behind the hit list, the film is in dire trouble, because the oft-mentioned but never seen Von Beiber (yes, that's his name) plot only pops up at moments of convenience. 'Bending the Rules' incorporates its juggling narrative too precisely, with plots coming together and meshing so perfectly that it induces eye rolls that may induce seizures they're so powerful. And for crying out loud, the villain is named after Justin freaking Beiber!
'Bending the Rules' presents two mysteries, both of which telegraph clues far too early and often. It's a film that helps two asshole characters realize they're both as unlovable as a case of syphilis by pairing them together, and letting us watch the train wreck unfold. The action is truncated and overly convenient, and there's never any moment where tension is allowed to build, either in dangerous situations or between the dueling characters. It's just not a good film, with an amazingly brief (83 minutes including credits) run time that still feels overlong. If you're a fan of these wrestler vehicles, you may want to bend the rules and avoid this one. Oh snap, that right there worked better than any joke in the film!
The Disc: Vital Stats
WWE Films and Vivendi Entertainment bring 'Bending the Rules' to Blu-ray on a Region A marked BD50 disc, housed in a non-cut-out eco-case, held under a slipcover that replicates the art beneath it. There are two WWE-related pre-menu trailers. This title, released in theaters just three weeks prior to the home video release, is exclusively available at Wal-Mart stores until late June, a three month window.
With a passable, neither extraordinary nor painful, 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer, 'Bending the Rules' gets by on Blu-ray with no major complaints or praise.
Detail levels are stable, with only a couple lightly soft shots mixed in, with good details shining through even the fairly high grain level. Skin tones remain true and accurate, while textures can be a little hit or miss. Contrast, while overblown in a few shots, is solid, as is the strength in colors, particularly noticeable in the stand out vehicle paint jobs. Picture depth is actually pretty darned good, and there's not a single bit of aliasing or artifacting that drew my eye.
While it doesn't have the high def pop or sparkle of some other discs, 'Bending the Rules' is more than acceptable, and earns a thumbs up in my book.
'Bending the Rules' comes with two lossless tracks, both an English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
While it would be quite humorous to hear the Rated R Superstar in Spanish, this review will stick with the film's native track, and quite honestly, it's a pretty good one. Dialogue only comes from the front channels, but is always clear and precise, with no awkward dynamic concerns. I do question one moment, where echos permeate the front channels but never the rears, but that seems more a sound design issue than anything. The weird thing is, though, rears do get plenty of use. The soundtrack separates through the entire room nicely, gunfire comes from all angles, even if the majority comes from the front, and there are a few mixed in moving effects, with only a few bullets whizzing, but a few cars passing through channels back to front or vice versa. Gunfire has great pop and distinction between guns, and ambience levels are beyond believable.
I hate to say it, but this disc does have some winning attributes to it, and the audio is one of 'em.
This disc has a fair amount of extras, which actually surprised me. Then again, I normally eject WWE films before their even over, so I never get the chance to see if there's a supplement package. On the wrapping there is a sticker, beneath it lies a code for a VUDU Digital Copy of the film. Never trust any company that hides its codes on stickers that you are likely to throw away.
'Bending the Rules' didn't do it for me. Then again, no WWE film since 'See No Evil' has. It's a stinker buddy cop comedy that is the antithesis of convolution, and possibly the definition of slow moving. Edge and Kennedy have no chemistry, and if this film is any proof, no right to be in front of the camera. That said, the Blu-ray release of this WWE film is really good, with solid video and great audio, and a small pile of extras to boot, including nice features on the vehicles used in the movie. Edge fans will want to check this out.