John Rain kills people for a living. Half American and half Japanese, but out of place in both worlds, Rain is not a good man, but he is good at what he does. He’s not so hot with women, though - bit of a soft touch if you ask me. Doesn’t like to kill them either, probably not even the bad ones. He’s a very busy man, which explains why he doesn’t watch a lot of movies. If he did, he would know that you never get ‘groin-y’ with the daughter of a man you just killed. No matter how beautiful she is. Now Rain must prevent the girl from becoming collateral damage, but that’s what happens when you think with your heart and not your head. Based on the novel by author Barry Eisler, Max Mannix’s (Dance of the Dragon) 2009 thriller marks the first cinematic adventure of freelance assassin John Rain.
The central plot finds the CIA and Yakuza trying to get their hands on a USB stick that contains extremely sensitive information. The kind of information that would leave the Japanese government exposed to outside interference. Trousers, ankles, that kind of thing. Naturally, the CIA and Yakuza are very keen to retrieve said information and blackmail the Japanese government for all its worth. The only problem is, a mysterious assassin keeps getting in the way, and nobody really seems to know what his involvement is. Or rather, those that do are keeping their cards very close to their chests.
I don’t really ‘do’ books, so I’m coming at this from the cold. Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) provides Hollywood acting muscle as CIA chief Holtzer, and Kippei Shiina stars as the invisible assassin Rain. Will Max Mannix’s latest keep you from stepping outside with its heavy shower of corruption, double-cross and action, or will this moody political thriller simply rain on your parade? Better put that umbrella on standby. It’s a game of cat and mouse for the most part, but fortunately Rain Fall comes with a solid turn from Jerry, and an ever-reliable performance from Tom.
Gary Oldman is guilty of overacting at times, but did you really expect anything less? It’s all in the name of entertainment. He screams, he shouts, he eats up the screen, and steals virtually every scene he’s in. We’re not talking Leon standards here; even Gary looks like he’s only there to pick up the paycheck at times, but you can always rely on Mr Oldman to keep a tired storyline moving. Shiina’s performance makes for the perfect counterbalance, successfully tapping into the menace and restraint of a hired killer. He talks quietly, calmly and infrequently, but he’s always in control. Convincing in the lead role, Shiina's never quite the hero, but certainly less corrupt than the people around him, giving us a character we can root for.
If you’re a fan of action pictures then you might want to reconsider, there isn’t a lot of gunplay to speak of, and even though John Rain is a highly trained martial artist, he never resorts to Donnie Yen style ass-kickery to get things done. We’re in Bourne territory here, with focus very much on quick fire hand-to-hand combat and fast editing. Mannix handles these scenes competently enough but they are few and far between; the film moves at a slow and deliberate pace that will leave action junkies out in the cold. The thriller aspect is very pedestrian as well, and there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before. Max Mannix seems incapable of ending his movie at the appropriate moment, dragging proceedings way past the point of breaking.
His directional skills can’t be faulted but his pacing is a little off at times, and I found my mind wandering on several occasions, probably wondering where I’d put that damn umbrella. Throwing a lick of romance into the mix may seem compulsory, but the chemistry is found wanting. It probably worked better in the book, but for me the blossoming relationship slowed down a relaxed running time even further.
Rain Fall is the dictionary definition of workmanlike. Unspectacular, undemanding fodder that entertains in small doses but rarely threatens the likes of Bourne and co. Two effective lead turns help to raise its profile, but the subsequent downpour only serves to dampen the spirit. It’s hard to resist ending on the line ‘it never rains but it pours’, but Rain Fall really did leave me out in the cold. It’s a good job I brought that umbrella with me after all… AW