Twins Danny and Oxide Pang made their dual-directorial debut with the Thai-language version of "Bangkok Dangerous," whose effective lowlife atmosphere and wide-ranging stylistic palette propelled them onto the international scene. They followed with the original 2002 "The Eye" and its two local sequels before debuting Stateside with last year's moody horror tale "The Messengers."
Working here with a script by Jason Richman ("Swing Vote"), the helmers reshape their rough, Bangkok underworld-set story into a cleaner tourist's take on crime and corruption. Yet without the technical nastiness and fatal realism that made the initial film so compelling, the remake feels like a hollow excuse to present the myriad ways in which a bullet can pierce a cranium, rather than an edgy portrait of Third World violence.
As in the original, pic follows the gloomy itinerary of solitary gun-for-hire Joe (Cage), who, in the opening scene, takes out a high-profile target in Prague, then coldly eliminates his assistant via lethal injection. With no hints as to what exactly pushed Joe into such a dirty business, we're left to work with the few personal guidelines he repeats in a voiceover, used sparingly throughout.
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