Movie Review: Checkmate.
So, Erik and I have been kicking around a new idea for a feature: we basically dare each other to watch a horrible movie and then review it, with a heavy emphasis on how bad watching that film made us feel. This September, we’re looking at a particularly dry stretch, with no good movies on the horizon. If we’re going to watch a film, we’re pretty damn sure that it’s going to be a stinker, and that we’re going to suffer accordingly. Instead of bitch and moan about it, we’ve decided to embrace it. We’re going to watch awful movies, and we’re going to give them a full-throated review, talking about every damn thing that hurt about seeing them.
This week’s trailer selections gave us Checkmate, a film so bad it has 2.7 out of 10 on IMDB and ZERO reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. It is so heinous, people are currently not even willing to watch it. The review section on Amazon Prime, where I acquired this gem for four hard-earned US dollars of my own money, is all 1 stars. Don’t nobody like this shit. So I’m going to see it. And tell you about it. Here it goes.
Time Stamp: Midnight. Beer Count: 1.
The first studio logo is a running CG wolf with fire for eyes. The company is called Puppy Entertainment. Decent start. The second company’s intro feels like the cheesy sound effects from the Dolby intro at a Cinemagic theater. Not a good start.
The film is started. I pause to pee and get a second beer. We’re already behind schedule.
Time Stamp: 12.30. Beer Count: 3.
Long line at the bathroom. I’m at home, and that’s not an exaggeration. We need to invite less people over.
Bank robbery scene to start. Budget police office with circa 1980’s touch phones and ten jar-heads trying to sound tough as they suit up and “go fight bad guys!” We then cut to Vinnie Jones taunting Danny Glover over a chessboard and sexually harassing a vaguely Asian actress with a sword named Katana (the woman, not the sword,) who handles her sword as well as I handle chopsticks. We’re in for a long one.
The two chess players (pretty obviously God and the Devil) decide to up the wager, but don’t spell out what that means. We cut to the vault where a white crook tries to ghetto talk his two black compatriots and sounds like Jamie Kennedy while doing so. Outside a gunman fires random potshots at the police from the roof, managing to miss 20 cops who have their backs turned to him. The CAPTAIN takes a gun from a rookie and blows him away. Cut to title scene.
Time Stamp: 12:50. Beer Count: Still 3.
CG intro has a black Knight (the horsey piece for those not accustomed to boring games) doing spinning kicks to white Pawns. Movie does not even understand how chess works. We then have a rewind of the flaccid gunfight bring us back to “1 day earlier” where a man enters a church and waits for confession. The guy exiting the booth ahead of him seems to have obviously confessed to child molestation. Just looks like the type.
Confession Guy arranges to have himself killed by the priest (Sean Astin, slumming it up hard here) in a way that gets his family paid for the insurance. We cut to a chop shop where two white guys attempt to appear black by saying fuck every second word. Their two actually black friends roll their eyes like drowning horses in response. The white guys go for a joyride and rob a liquor store, bringing the f-word count to about a million in the process. This seems like a regular feature of this movie.
Time Stamp: 1 am. Beer Count: 4, mercifully.
We enter Club Sin, where Vinnie Jones presides over such abject debauchery as two women kissing, several women dancing like they’re at a middle school social, and several people ordering ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES! Hell on Earth. Sean Astin shows up and executes a man in the rest room, showing him a picture of a woman that has zero context. He mutters some Bible verses, turns to leave, then caps the dude anyway. It is much less cool than it sounds.
Time Stamp: 1:20. Beer Count: Nominal.
Some set-up where we meet a pregnant lady who features in the robbery, Confession Guy goes to see his terminally ill son, and the two whitest gangsters in LA dropping a metric ton of F-bombs explaining how they got “10 G’s” from today’s robbery, but the bank score is going to be “Super Bowl Sunday” for them. Ten grand? From a liquor store? That must be the busiest fucking liquor store in California.
Time Stamp: 1.30. Beer Count: 5.
More exposition, but Confession Guy and his wife have a completely non-terrible conversation about their dying child. It’s so not bad that I’m starting to have hope. That’s apparently a mistake. Meanwhile, Pregnant Lady (who suffers from asthma like most people suffer from snake bites) and her passively dude-bro husband have an awful scene where he basically blames her for biology. Nice.
Danny Glover arrives in a helicopter and looks so worn out, I’m afraid I’m going to be writing a See It Instead Retrospective about his career any day now… He arrives to meet Vinnie Jones to start their chess match. The White Gangsters drop more fucks, and the older brother throws away a picture of their mother. It is passed along, improbably, to Confession Guy. Sean Astin is trying to line up his shot to snipe Confession Guy, but HAS THE CAPS ON HIS SCOPE! For fuck’s sake! Nobody told him that if you can’t actually see through the scope, that’s a problem! Holy jumped up Jesus on a Trisket, this is the most amateurish shit I have ever seen in a movie. Abort movie, abort movie!
Time Stamp: 2 am. Beer Count: wholly inadequate.
The robbery starts. Thank Jeebus. Vinnie and Danny start the chess match, and even I can tell it is some middle school level strategy they will be employing. The F-U bandits arrive and hold the bank up, taking special notice of Pregnant Lady and Confession Guy. A side story about Deputy Dipshit the bank cop is going nowhere, fast. Deputy Dipshit gets the drop on the F-U brothers, but they have a sleeper in the bank, who drops him, and then commences to say fuck a million times, so she is obviously one of the team. Fuck me.
Time Stamp: 2.20. Beer Count: 7.
You’d think that the robbery would be speeding things up. Nope. I’ve watched nearly half an hour of movie, nothing worth reporting. Vinnie and Danny keep making silly chess moves you can’t follow (but Katana keeps making sour faces each move.) Inside, F-U bandits keep infighting. Two cowboys from the SWAT team try to go in and get non-lethally shot. Stalemate all around.
Time Stamp: 2.45. Beer Count: 8.
The robbers start to eat each other (metaphorically, cause literally it would be the best thing that could happen to this movie.) The crazy and completely “hard” F-U brothers object to the black robber, Bone, trying to use human shields. So Bone calls in his boys on the outside to shoot at the police…but hit nothing. The police return fire…and hit nothing. But the robbery van explodes, because, shit, we need something to happen.
Time Stamp: 2:50. Beer Count: 9.
Apparently this is the climax. Vinnie is demonstrably losing the chess match, which is no sort of climax since we never see any of the moves. Just Katana smirking. As a metaphor, this is the weakest shit I have seen since freshman year creative writing workshop. Fuck you, Ethan, your orc and goblin metaphors for society still suck ass.
People get shot, we don’t care how or why. Danny Glover gloats over his win, completely making a mockery of his God character. Sean Astin shoots several robbers, for no discernible reason. Confession Guy shouts he wants to live, so apparently his contract is canceled. Pregnant Lady has an asthma attack, so she gets off the hook too. One van full of cross-eyed shooters was all the robbers had in reserve, so apparently the robbery is fucked. The F-U brothers both get shot into pastrami, which is a crime against pastrami. So is this over yet?
Time Stamp: 3 am. Beer Count: Ran out of beer, moving to Four Roses Bourbon. Unlike the F-U brothers, I brought some big guns to this fight.
Oh God, no. This movie tried to jump the shark and ended up being chum. Holy crap. Vinnie tries to ambush God and Katana, and she slices his boys to ribbons…by wildly waving her pig-sticker around. The police learn that their sharp-shooter never shot, but never try to catch assassin priest. Confession Guy gets good news! The younger F-U brother was an organ donor, so their son gets his heart! Can you give an adult heart to a 7 year old? I googled for ten seconds, and the answer is: Hell Fucking NO. So, this movie crashes into yet the last hurdle it set itself. Fail. Also, I’m pretty sure the assassin priest shot the guy in the chest, oh, you know, vaguely in the heart region. You can’t make incompetence like this up.
This is an uplifting movie. You cannot possibly be stupider than the people who made it. No matter what you’ve done, no matter if you think vaccines cause autism, you are Albert Einstein compared to this production. Sleep well, knowing that you are not the first to die when the zombie shark-men surpass us and challenge the human race. The makers of Checkmate will die howling and strangely boring deaths first, giving you ample time to clamber to higher ground, and as we all know, zombie shark-men cannot climb.