Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, Emma Roberts
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
After failing to get into the NYPD which would have helped him get out of the mean streets of The Bronx, Chris Potamitis (Hemsworth) settles with taking a job as a security guard at the Empire State armoured Truck Company. Chris gets increasingly frustrated by the injustice around him where loyalty means nothing and it seems to be the corrupt few that have all the money. After stealing a little to help the widow of his partner who is killed, Chris lets slip to his big mouthed friend Eddie (Michael Angarano) of the extremely lax security where he works, and now is forced to be the sole security guard working nights. Chris is then unwittingly drawn into the largest cash heist in US history, but after that has both the Bronx’s most notorious gangsters and NYPD detective James Ransone (Johnson) on his and Eddie’s tale.
So, it is another week and yet another straight to DVD film starring the youngest of the Hemsworths. Well, though Empire State is not as bad as Paranoia (if you really want to read my review of that tripe, click here), it is still pretty obvious why it went straight to a DVD release. This is based on a true story and I have no idea what is fact and what is fiction, but either way Empire State from start to finish feels like a generic B-movie. I understand this is The Bronx, but all the characters are so painfully clichéd and what essentially drives the plot is a painfully tried and tested plot mechanism of a good hearted protagonist (therefore we apparently have to root for him) having painfully stupid loyalty to a big mouthed best friend who with every word he utters seems to put his best friend in difficult positions.
This painfully unoriginal plot device immediately undermines our care for everything what happens, and though there is the use of archive news footage to try to add realism, everything feels predictable and, very often, boring. It is impossible to care about any of these characters, and indeed what happens to them.
Our inability to care is of course emphasised by the performances: Liam Hemsworth may physically look the part, but just pouts and really lacks any screen presence at all to convince as the protagonist. As his irritating friend Eddie, Michael Angarano made me want to put my fist through my television, but due to the character he plays I guess that means he gives a good performance. Meanwhile Emma Roberts is hardly in it and is just a name to put on the DVD cover and every other character is a painfully clichéd Bronx gangster. Then of course Dwayne Johnson turns up. Well, from watching this film which looks very cheap the only explanation I can think of as to why Empire State cost a repeated $11million is for the salary of the now a-list movie star Dwayne Johnson. He turns up for a few scenes doing what he does and puts very little effort in, and his attitude reflects my opinion on this film: It is just lazy B-movie crap.
Despite being based on a true story of apparent historical significance, Empire State is a clichéd, badly acted and very boring B-movie that continues to destroy Liam Hemsworth’s credibility as a leading man.